Health surcharge bill for overseas nurses in London will near £4 million in 2019

RCN says doubling of fee for using NHS services will deter potential recruits

RCN says doubling of fee for using NHS services will deter potential recruits

Picture: iStock

Overseas nurses and health visitors working in London will collectively have to pay nearly £4 million to access NHS care this year, Nursing Standard has calculated.

From this month, people from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will have to pay an annual immigration health surcharge of £400 – double the fee charged in 2018.

Financial pressure

According to RCN London, there are 9,482 non-EEA nurses and health visitors working across the capital.

Based on a £400 charge per person, this group will collectively have to pay £3,792,800 in 2019.

But this figure may understate the impact of the surcharge on staff, as they will also have to pay £400 per family member living in the UK. 

A question of principles

RCN London regional director Jude Diggins said: ‘This is morally indefensible. Migrant healthcare staff work in the NHS, pay tax and national insurance, yet are now being told to pay even more to use the health service.

‘These are not the principles the NHS was founded on.’

Ms Diggins added that London would be hit particularly hard by the surcharge and its impact on overseas nurses. 

‘With London’s NHS in the grip of its worst-ever staffing crisis, and the system as a whole failing to train enough home-grown nurses, it is wrong on every level to start making it harder to recruit from overseas,’ she said.

‘In the capital, almost one in five of our nurses come from outside the EEA; without them, the ability to safely staff services would be severely compromised.’

Long-term sustainability

But a Home Office spokesperson defended the policy: ‘We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but we believe it is right that they make a fair and proportionate contribution to its long-term sustainability.

‘Parliament agrees and has approved the order we proposed to increase the immigration health surcharge so it better reflects the actual costs to the NHS.’

The spokesperson added that the money raised through the surcharge will be used to fund NHS services.

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.