The Sun : NHS migrant surcharge scrapped for health care workers after u-turn from Boris Johnson

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BORIS Johnson has u-turned on making NHS workers pay the £624 migrant surcharge and will ask officials to scrap it as soon as possible.

The PM has asked the Home Office and the Department for Health and Social Care to remove NHS and care workers from the extra charge whenever they can.

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Boris Johnson has scrapped the migrant surcharge for NHS workers

No10 confirmed this evening that  work is now underway, and the full details will be released in the coming days.

It comes just hours before the nation will again clap to show appreciation of our hard-working carers, tonight at 8pm.

The PM is said to have been "thinking" about the issue for some time – after doctors in the NHS saved his life earlier this year.

After getting out of intensive care Boris was reported to ave said to doctors: "I owe you my life."

And The PM showed appreciation by clapping his medics just two hours after being wheeled out of intensive care and back to a normal ward at St Thomas' Hospital.

A No10 spokesperson said: "He been a personal beneficiary of carers from abroad and understands the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff.

"The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make."

The u-turn will mean that all NHS workers – everyone from medical staff down to porters and cleaners – won't have to pay the levy.

But the NHS surcharge will go up for everyone else in October as planned.

The Government thinks its fair to expect people arriving in the UK to pay towards the NHS.

Labour's Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the news. He said: "Boris Johnson is right to have u-turned and backed our proposal to remove the NHS charge for health professionals and care workers.

"This is a victory for common decency and the right thing to do.

"We cannot clap our carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next."

The swift-u-turn came just five hours after the PM's spokesperson defended the charge.

He said: "It goes directly back into the NHS to help save lives.

"Income from the surcharge is distributed between the four devolved health administrations in England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland for the purpose of health spending.

"Money that we put into our health service has a direct impact on improving people's lives and saving people's lives."

At the moment Home Office exempts NHS workers from paying the charge for one year if their visas expire before October amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news is the second u-turn in just 24 hours from the Government.

Yesterday the Home Office backed down on a right to remain scheme for the families of NHS workers who die on the frontline.

Previously they were exempt from being able to remain in the UK if their loved one passes away, but that has now been changed too.

Priti Patel said: "When I announced the introduction of the bereavement scheme in April, I said we would continue to work across government to look at ways to offer further support. Today we are extending the scheme to NHS support staff and social care workers.

"We want to ensure families have the support they need and so this will be effective immediately and retrospectively."

What is the surcharge and what does it cover?

The NHS Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a one-off payment required by non-British citizens that enables them access to the National Health Service.

It applies to anyone and their dependants wishing to enter the UK under domestic immigration rules.

The IHS was implemented in 2015.

It's payable when a person initially fills out their visa application, usually paid online.

You can also pay by post.

Once the visa is granted or the payment cleared you can start using the NHS.

You still need to pay for some services, like prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and assisted conception.

If accessing NHS healthcare in the UK, even if you've paid your IHS, you should bring your biometric residence permit.

The charge is increasing from £400 to £624 for one year as of October 2020.

However, the longer your visa, the more you'll pay.

Hassan Akkad argued the surcharge that migrant NHS workers were made to pay was 'inhumane'

The news tonight comes after a BAFTA award-winning filmmaker turned hospital cleaner, who works on a coronavirus ward, today blasted the surcharge for migrant health workers who "risk their lives on the frontline".

Syrian refugee Hassan Akkad, 32, a photographer and filmmaker, said that for many health workers, the  surcharge was two weeks' worth of pay.

Workers coming to the UK from outside the European Economic Area have to pay a fee to use the health service which will soon increase from £400 a year to £624.

The essential worker today said he made £8.50 an hour for working as a cleaner in a Covid-19 ward.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said: "It's unfair and it's unjust.

"I would also argue that it's inhumane.

"I'm doing this job temporarily but for most cleaners and porters this is two weeks.

"This is the salary of two weeks to access the very same institution that they are now working for during the toughest, worst public health crisis in modern history.

"When I'm in the hospital, I'm observing what's going on around me and you can see that people are genuinely disturbed by these unfair policies that the government keeps coming with."

He said he himself didn't need to pay the health surcharge but the morale among the family of workers was low during the pandemic.

GMB host Piers Morgan said he was horrified by the NHS surcharge that is increasing from £400 to £624  for one year as of October 2020.

Piers said: "It seems frankly disgusting that everybody like them has to pay £624 for the pleasure and privilege for using the service they work in."

Boris Johnson yesterday revealed 181 NHS workers and 131 social care workers have died from coronavirus.

Twitter / @hassan_akkad
Hassan Akkad tweeted a photo of himself wearing full PPE to disinfect his local hospital[/caption]

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