Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has called on the Government to end visa fees for NHS workers from overseas. The measures are costing hard-working nurses and doctors thousands of pounds a year.
She said it is “disgraceful” that those on the frontline of the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic are being charged to work in the NHS and save lives in hospitals across the UK.
The Immigration Health Surcharge adds £400 a year to the cost of a UK visa per person for temporary migrants, meaning an NHS worker with a family of four is required to pay £1,600 a year or £8,000 over five years. Under government plans announced in the Budget on 11 March, the fees are set to rise to £624 a year and be extended to NHS staff from the EU from January 2021.
Layla Moran MP is calling for NHS staff to be permanently exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge. There are over 153,000 staff from overseas working in the NHS, with one in four hospital staff from outside the UK.
Scrapping the current Immigration Health Surcharge altogether would cost £220 million a year, meaning waiving fees for NHS workers only would cost even less. This would be fraction of the £30 billion of additional spending announced by the Government to tackle the Coronavirus outbreak.
Layla Moran MP commented:
“Hard-working NHS staff from overseas are on the frontline of the fight against the Coronavirus outbreak, saving lives and looking after our loved ones in hospitals around the country.
“It is disgraceful that the Government is charging these brave nurses and doctors thousands of pounds a year to work for the NHS. The cost of waiving visa fees for NHS staff would be just a fraction of the funding already announced by the Chancellor to tackle this crisis.
“This move would boost morale and send a powerful signal to hard-working nurses and doctors that their contribution to our country at this critical time is valued.”