‘Ministers must scrap cruel healthcare surcharge overseas nurses are forced to pay’

RCN urges next UK government to promise an end to the immigration health surcharge for nurses

RCN urges next UK government to promise an end to the immigration health surcharge for nurses

Picture: iStock

‘Cruel and heartless’ NHS fees are forcing some migrant nurses to surrender the equivalent of almost a month’s take-home pay annually, new analysis reveals.

Research by the RCN has calculated the length of time nurses on a range of salaries need to work just to cover the immigration health surcharge.

Health surcharge levied on migrant NHS staff and families

All migrants from outside the EU, along with their dependents, face having to pay the £400 compulsory healthcare surcharge.

The RCN said this means a Band 5 nurse with two children would have to work from January 1 to January 22 next year to pay the £1,200 surcharge.

If the charge was increased to £625 per person, as the Conservatives have pledged to do if they win this week's general election, the same nurse would have to work until 4 February, or for 183 hours, just to cover the charge.

The UK can ill afford to deter nurses from overseas – RCN

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair condemned the surcharge as unjust and said the UK cannot afford to deter foreign healthcare professionals from coming here to work.

‘Nurses from overseas who give their all for patients in the UK must not be penalised in this way any longer.

‘Any party wanting to form the next government must commit to abolishing this cruel and heartless charge for nursing staff.’

What the main Westminster parties are promising

The Conservatives said they would not just increase the surcharge to £625 but extend it to EU nationals working in the UK.

In contrast, Labour and the Greens said they would repeal the 2014 Immigration Act, which gives provision for charging. The Liberal Democrats have not yet responded to a request for information about their position.

Nurse staffing issues have recently hit record levels in England, with 43,000 vacancies at last count, according to NHS Digital.

Recent research by the Nuffield Trust suggests one in four hospital staff was born outside the UK.

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.