UK-based Indian doctors protest 'unfair' immigration health surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge hiked from GBP 200 to GBP 400 per year from December last year which was introduced in April 2015.

UK-based Indian doctors and healthcare professionals started campaigning against the unfair doubling of a health surcharge. This surcharge is imposed on professionals from outside the European Union (EU) living and working in Britain.

The Immigration Health Surcharge hiked from GBP 200 to GBP 400 per year from December last year which was introduced in April 2015.

In order to raise additional funds for the country's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) this surcharge has been imposed on anyone in the UK on work, study or family visa for longer than six months.

Many representatives lobbying the UK Home Office for a rethink over the matter that includes the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and the UK's largest representative body for Indian-origin doctors. They are disputing that it would have an adverse impact on their attempt to recruit more healthcare professionals from India to meet staff shortages in the NHS.

Clinicians are already facing burdensome processes relating to regulation and immigration who are wishing to work in the UK. A letter from BAPIO president Ramesh Mehta and secretary Parag Singhal were sent to UK home secretary Sajid Javid last week explaining that the UK will lose on quality healthcare professionals due to this surcharge from non-EU countries. The attraction of employees working in the NHS will adversely affect due to current policy. They further said it will destroy their own requirements of providing quality health services to our patients. They further requested in the letter that this unfair and highly discriminatory health surcharge for NHS- employed professionals should be reversed with immediate effect in the interest of patient safety and improved morale of the immigrant workforce.

According to the organization stats, the severe shortage is likely to grow to around 250,000 by 2030 as it is one in 11 NHS clinical posts are currently unfilled, rising to one in eight for nursing vacancies. The BAPIO pointed out that the Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals from countries like India are often referred to as the backbone of the UK's healthcare system. But it fears these efforts would be hit as a result of the additional financial burden imposed by the health surcharge.

Prof. Singhal said, in order to provide quality health services in over-stretched hospitals, these professionals are paying their taxes, including National Insurance (NI) contributions. They will feel demoralized and discriminated due to this additional burden.

The UK government says since the surcharge has raised over GBP 600 million that was introduced in 2015, which has been plowed back into health budgets. With extra funding with the doubling of the surcharge, it is expecting to raise an estimated GBP 220 million, with the funds aimed at "sustaining and protecting" the country's healthcare system.

  • 11-Feb-2019

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