Health and social care workers from abroad will not have to pay to use the NHS, however care organisations have said more info is needed
Scottish care bodies have “cautiously welcome” a government u-turn on NHS fees being scrapped for health and care workers.
In April, the UK Government announced tentative plans to review the charge for NHS workers, which was met with concern by social care organisations in Scotland who called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to include social care staff in the review. The letter was sent by Camphill Scotland and signed by CCPS, the ALLIANCE, Scottish Care and Volunteer Scotland.
The health immigration surcharge on non-EU workers and volunteers is £400 per year and set to rise to £624 in October.
Yesterday (21 May 2020), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the surcharge would be removed for health and social care staff.
The move to grant the exemption came after the PM defended the fee earlier in the week, saying it makes money for the NHS.
And the organisations who raised concern about the impact of the surcharge have cautiously welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that it will be removed for health and social care staff.
Professor Ian Welsh, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), welcomed the move, but added more details are needed.
He said: “This is a welcome move – but we are cautious until further detail on the plan is published. We must promote the interests of both NHS and social care staff and ensure that social care workers, in any settings, are not forced to pay the surcharge in order to support people with long term conditions and disabled people to achieve their best outcomes. This exemption must extend as far as the many volunteers who work in Scotland’s social care system every year and on whom our health and social care system relies.”
Dr Neil Henery, director of Camphill Scotland, said: “This is a very welcome announcement but it is not clear yet whether it includes international workers who volunteer to work with us on Tier 5 visas. We are urgently seeking clarity on this vital matter.”
Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said: “I am delighted that The UK Government has made a decision to value social care staff and to treat them with equity and fairness. The sacrificial service of so many has rightly been recognised.”
A spokesman for the Prime Minister announced the change in policy. He said: said: "[The PM] has been thinking about this a great deal. He has 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."