Waive your short-sighted health surcharge for nurses, RCN tells government

Non-EEA nurses have to pay an NHS surcharge – and it's about to double

Non-EEA nurses have to pay an NHS surcharge – and it's about to double

Picture: iStock

The RCN wants the government to waive the NHS surcharge levied on nurses from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) ahead of its expected hike in December.

The college said the plan to double the health surcharge, which applies to non-EEA nationals, is punitive.

Pressure on nurses with families

Currently, people from outside the EEA living in the UK pay a £200 annual health surcharge per family member. This has forced some nurses to be separated from their children because they cannot afford to keep them with them in the UK.

From December, the fee will double – subject to parliament's approval – with the government today confirming its intention to raise the surcharge to £400 per person.

'The hostile environment is alive and well'

RCN England director Tom Sandford said: ‘The government’s hostile environment appears to be alive and well, embodied by this punitive and short-sighted decision,’ he said.

‘The UK depends on professionals from around the world, and we are proud to have the best and brightest from over 200 countries represented here. Yet the government seems to have learned nothing from the Windrush scandal and is still sending the message that people are no longer welcome.’

'The government should be thanking these nurses, not doubling the price of admission'

Tom Sandford, RCN England director

Mr Sandford said the government can ill-afford to make it harder for nurses to live and work here in light of the tally of 41,000 nursing vacancies in England alone.

He added: ‘The government should be thanking them, not doubling the price of admission. We call on the Home Office to waive this policy for non-EEA nursing staff immediately.’

A 'fair contribution' to the NHS

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: 'We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but the NHS is a national, not international health service and we believe it is right they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability.'  

The Department of Health and Social Care estimates the NHS spends £470 on average per person per year on treating those required to pay the surcharge.

The government said it has raised more than £600 million for the NHS since the surcharge’s introduction in 2015. It estimates the new higher surcharge could raise an additional £220 million per year.

RCN members voted to lobby the government on the issue at their congress earlier this year. Since then, the college made representations, including writing to the home secretary Sajid Javid.

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