Visa surcharge for doctors and nurses coming to work in UK 'under review'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said a visa surcharge for doctors and nurses coming to work in the UK is under review.

It is thought some 153,000 non-EU residents have to pay the £400 annual charge to use the health service, a cost that will rise to £624 from October.

It means NHS workers are effectively taxed twice to use the service, once before they are paid, and again in the form of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Asked if it was the right time to end the surcharge, Ms Patel told ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand: “You’ll be aware of many changes we have already made around the immigration status and the visa status for NHS workers for extending their visas already if they were coming up for expiry.

“We have a range of measures that are, like most things in Government, under review, and we are looking at everything including visa surcharge.

“That is something that obviously I am working with my colleague Matt Hancock in the Department of Health and Social Care because that is a joint policy with Matt’s team, and we are looking at everything we can do to continue to support everyone on the front line in the NHS.”

Doctors, nurses and NHS staff outside the William Harvey Hospital, in Ashford, Kent, to salute local heroes during Thursday's nationwide Clap for Carers initiative. Credit: PA

ITV News has previously reported how a nurse said she is having to pay more than £11,000 for her and her family to access the health service, despite her working for the NHS.

Eva Omondi, an RCN NHS nurse based in Luton, is facing the £624 immigration surcharge fee six times, for her and her family members.

With visas lasting three years, she must find a total of more than £11,000 to have access to the health service.

In the Budget last month it was announced that the charge would rise by £224 a year, expanding to include EEA migrants from January 2021.

Ms Patel said the government was looking into a visa surcharges for overseas doctors and nurses. Credit: PA

The Royal College of Nursing has been calling for the surcharge to be scrapped.

The charge is applicable to people on work and limited leave to remain visas in the UK, including dependents and must be paid in advance for the entire length of their visa duration, with no ability to defer payments.

For some, it can means payments into the thousands when paying for several dependents, a cost which is potentially crippling for those on starting salaries of up to £24,000 as a nurse.

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