Unions welcome scrapping of NHS surcharge for migrant health and care workers

Unions have welcomed this afternoon’s announcement that NHS and care workers are to be exempt from paying the NHS surcharge.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is long overdue. The pandemic has shown the enormous contribution of overseas workers to our health and care system. They’re putting their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.

“It’s a moral injustice to ask migrant staff to make double the contribution of others and pay extra for the very services they help provide.

“This must also apply to the workers’ families. And the government should go further by removing the charge for all migrant workers.”

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “The vast majority of Usdaw members are key workers in the food and pharmaceutical supply chains. They are on the frontline of keeping our society going during this appalling Coronavirus emergency.

“For those who are migrant workers, we see no justification for them to be surcharged for accessing the NHS when they are working hard, providing essential services and paying their taxes. So as the government rightly reviews this charge for health and care workers, we urge them to also exempt all the key workers that we clap for every Thursday.”

Before the U-turn, Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Of all people, Boris Johnson should appreciate the wonderful and dedicated work of NHS health and social care professions, including the two non-UK nurses he singled out for particular praise in his fight for survival against coronavirus.

“Therefore, the fact he won’t waive this £400 fee for overseas health and social care workers is mean-spirited and shabby.

“With this prime minister warm words of praise come cheap, but a small financial gesture for NHS migrant workers, many of them low-paid, is beyond his compass. His stance is hypocritical.

“Tonight, we will have the Thursday ‘clap for carers’ by the people of the UK, many of them who voted for Boris Johnson as recently as last December – there is a big irony here. This charge should be waived immediately.”

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