Tory MP backs call to scrap NHS fee for overseas carers

UK exempts care staff from migrant health tax

"We have consistently highlighted the unfairness of the immigration health surcharge and called for its removal, so this recognition of the enormous contribution of our migrant colleagues to the health service is welcome but long overdue", said the British Medical Association (BMA), among the groups campaigning for the removal of the surcharge for NHS workers.

Doctors, nurses and paramedics are now exempt from paying the charge for one year, but there was pressure for No 10 to make this permanent, and to include migrant health care workers.

"We can not clap our carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next", he said, in reference to the weekly clap for frontline workers which takes place in the United Kingdom every Thursday at 8pm local time.

On Wednesday, the government expanded a bereavement scheme allowing families and dependents of migrant NHS staff who die from coronavirus to stay in Britain, after criticism that care workers, cleaners and porters were left out.

Boris Johnson's spokesman said the PM had asked the Home Office and Department for Health to exempt NHS and care workers "as soon as possible".

The Prime Minister's spokesperson said; "He has been a personal beneficiary of carers from overseas and understands the difficulties faced by our incredible NHS staff".

The U-turn comes a day after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised Mr Johnson's previous policy during Prime Minister's Questions.

Many of whom are now putting their lives at risk on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, from paying a fee for healthcare.

Yesterday the PM said: "I do accept and understand the difficulties faced by our wonderful NHS staff and, like him, I've been a personal beneficiary of carers who have come from overseas and, frankly, saved my life".

He captioned the clip "I hope you can help me get this message delivered to Mr PM Boris Johnson" and it has been viewed 3.7 million times and been retweeted almost 50,000 times.

But he said: "We must look at the realities".

Senior Tories demanded change, with former party chairman Lord Patten calling it "appalling" and "monstrous".

Former Conservative Party vice-chairman Sir Roger Gale warned Johnson that not to waive the current surcharge "would rightly be perceived as mean-spirited, doctrinaire and petty".

Chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee William Wragg said "now is the time for a generosity of spirit towards those who have done so much good".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said a care worker on the National Living Wage would have to work for 70 hours "to pay off the fee".

"We can not clap for carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next", he said.

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