Migrant healthcare professionals working for the National Health Service (NHS) no longer need to pay a surcharge for using the health service.
The road to the NHS for overseas-trained healthcare workers involves visa applications, choosing the right English test and managing travel arrangements. The change should provide a positive message for those thinking about starting the journey.
How is the NHS surcharge changing?
Migrant healthcare professionals who work for the NHS will no longer pay an NHS surcharge.
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) currently costs £400 per year, rising to £624 in October. It is applied to some migrants as part of their visa application and is a prerequisite for accessing the NHS.
Nurses, doctors, and other migrant healthcare professionals previously received a one-year exemption from the IHS.
However, the changes set out by the UK government will mean all NHS staff will be excluded from the surcharge. This will include healthcare professionals, porters, and cleaners as well as independent health workers and social care workers.
The change comes as the UK is recognising the valuable contribution of foreign healthcare workers in the NHS.
Healthcare workers more than happy
It is a widely popular move, with migrants working for the NHS showing their support.
Speaking to The Guardian, Junior Doctor Ibreez Ajaz said she was amazed by the change and the positive impact it will have on their finances.
“I am really glad – it’s great for morale and for showing appreciation for our work,” she said. “It will make a real difference to how migrant workers in the NHS feel.”
“It’s fantastic when people clap on Thursday for the NHS and we are getting lots of support within the community but this is a great way for the government to show that the gratitude is meant.”
Migrants essential to NHS
Migrants play a crucial role in the UK’s healthcare workforce, working as doctors, nurses, cleaners and in a range of other occupations.
Of all the NHS staff in England, The Health Foundation reports that 13.3 per cent hold a non-British nationality. This amounts to more than 150,000 workers.
Among doctors, the proportion is higher, with 28.4% holding a non-British nationality. When it comes to GPs in England, 20.1% are qualified from outside the UK.
Government figures show there are over 21,000 people of Indian nationality working for the NHS, and more than 18,000 Filipino workers.
The change is a good step for migrant NHS workers. It should provide them with some financial relief as they settle and work in the UK. For more information about working and registering in the UK, check out the OET Destination Guides.