Anger as most overseas care workers must still pay upfront fees to fund NHS, despite Boris Johnson’s promise to exempt them

Rob Merrick
·1-min read

Most care workers from overseas will still have to pay upfront fees to help fund the NHS and wait six months for a refund, despite Boris Johnson’s promise to exempt them.

The Royal College of Nursing has hit out at a decision to opt for a reimbursement scheme for the immigration health surcharge – rather than a simple exemption – as details were finally published.

“Many staff – particularly those working in social care – will still have to pay this grossly unfair financial charge upfront in order to work in the UK,” said Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s chief executive.

“The proposed system of reimbursement for these workers does not go far enough. They must be reimbursed immediately in full to compensate for the initial, unjust financial burden imposed.”

The Home Office is blaming the complexities of arranging a scheme for workers who arrive in the UK other than on a sponsored visa.

Officials also say the announcement is more generous than the prime minister’s original pledge, by providing refunds for anyone effect since the end of March, rather than mid-May.

On 21 May, Mr Johnson was forced to grant the exemption, for health and care workers, after The Independent revealed Priti Patel had decided the fees must stay without carrying out a promised “review”.

The £400 health surcharge, rising to £624 from this October, is also paid by spouses and children, meaning the total cost can reach £8,000 for a family of four on a five-year work permit.

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