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21 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

More senior Conservatives join calls to scrap “mean-spirited“ NHS surcharge for migrant healthcare staff

By Samuel Horti

Two more senior Conservative MPs have joined a chorus of Tory voices calling for the government to exempt migrant healthcare workers from a £400 surcharge to use the NHS.

The annual charge applies to those arriving from outside the European Economic Area. Last month, the government exempted NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics from the charge, but calls from opposition parties to exempt all health and social care workers are now being echoed by senior Conservatives.

This afternoon, Bob Neill, chairman of the justice select committee, said: “They [care workers] make a vital contribution and we should show some generosity of spirit as a nation and also demonstrate to them that they are genuinely valued. It’s a small sum in the overall scheme of things.”

Education committee chairman Robert Halfon has also called on the government to rethink the surcharge, “or, at the very least, [come] up with a payment scheme to ensure that all those NHS workers who are on low pay have higher wages and a better standard of living”.

Former Conservative Party vice-chairman Roger Gale said that failure to waive the charge “would rightly be perceived as mean-spirited, doctrinaire and petty”.

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The surcharge is set to rise to £624 in October.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government has no plans to rethink the surcharge, and claimed yesterday that it brings in £900m for the NHS. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate migrant healthcare workers contribute around £90m.