23.12.2019 Immigration Health Surcharge Increase

23.12.2019 Immigration Health Surcharge Increase

It has been reported that the government plans to charge foreign National Health Service (NHS) staff £625 a year to use the NHS, as well as increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge from £400 to £625 for all non-EU migrant workers. The government also intends to extend the same surcharge to all EU citizens coming to the UK after Brexit.

“Under the current system, people on a work, study or family visa incur average NHS costs of £625 per year but only pay a £400 surcharge. This measure will raise over £500m a year, which can be put towards NHS services”, Conservative party, 17 November 2019.

The Immigration Health Surcharge (HIS) is an annual charge payable by each migrant to enable them to use the NHS. The IHS has been introduced to help fund the National Health Service and give migrants the same access to the NHS as UK citizens. This would significantly increase a total health surcharge bill of a foreign nurse coming to work in the NHS: a family consisting of the nurse in question and their spouse and two children will have to pay around £2,500 per year, whilst an average annual salary for nurses is only £23,137.

Representatives of the British Medical Association (“BMA”), the Royal College of Nursing (“RCN”) and the Royal College of Physicians have been sharply critical of the plans to penalise foreign NHS staff increasing an HIS and suggested the surcharge should in fact be scrapped for NHS staff altogether.

“The Conservative party recently pledged an NHS visa to make it easier for overseas staff to work here but, with this latest policy, they would be doing the exact opposite. This shows a clear lack of judgement that risks exacerbating the current workforce crisis in the NHS … The health surcharge does nothing but penalise doctors who are choosing to come to the UK and work in an understaffed, underfunded and under-resourced NHS; doctors who enable the NHS to provide essential care to patients on a daily basis” said the BMA’s Dr Chaand Nagpaul.