Exemptions would be welcome but health surcharge should be scrapped

Responding to Labour leader Keir Starmer’s proposal at Prime Minister’s questions yesterday (Wednesday) that health and care staff should be exempted from the immigration health surcharge, UNISON South East regional secretary Steve Torrance said:

“Dealing with the pandemic has shown more than ever how NHS and care services rely on staff from overseas. It beggars belief that we’re making them pay extra to work here and keep us safe.

“Workers who come to the UK already contribute to the NHS through tax and national insurance. Exemptions would be a welcome first step, but as the government comes out to clap for key workers again this Thursday, they may also consider showing their appreciation properly by scrapping the fee.”

UNISON local representative Mark Inch, a trainee clinical scientist from Portsmouth, said: “Something that I really notice on the Covid wards are the number of nurses from non-UK backgrounds, people from every continent.

“Migrant NHS workers pay their taxes like everyone else. To charge them for their use of the service, whilst publicly praising their efforts during the coronavirus crisis, is hypocritical.

“Staff are getting the appreciation they deserve from the public, but it’s vital that the work of NHS workers is not forgotten when the crisis is over.

“I’m proud that UNISON values and respects its members of all nationalities and understands that our public services simply could not survive without them.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Kieran Pearson M: 07432 741595 Ek.pearson@unison.co.uk