‘Mean-spirited and shabby’

Unite slams PM for not waiving £400 surcharge for NHS migrant workers

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BREAKING NEWS: Thanks to Unite action the PM is now saying the overseas NHS and care workers will have the charge removed (at 16.41, May 21)

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Unite slammed Boris Johnson’s hard-line stance not to waive the £400 NHS surcharge for overseas health and social care workers combating coronavirus today (Thursday May 21), describing it as ‘mean-spirited and shabby’.

Unite said the hypocrisy of the prime minister was given extra piquancy as he singled out two non-UK  nurses – one from New Zealand and the other from Portugal – for praise after he survived his fight with Covid-19.

The NHS fee of £400-a-year for care workers applies to those from outside the European Economic Area, regardless whether they use the NHS or not. It is set to rise to £624 in October.

There is also controversy over the £900m figure which the prime minister told MPs is raised by this charge. The Institute of Fiscal Studies put the sum at a tenth of that – £90m.

“Of all people, Boris Johnson should appreciate the wonderful and dedicated work of NHS health and social care professions, including the two non-UK nurses he singled out for particular praise in his fight for survival against coronavirus,” commented Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe.

“The fact he won’t waive this £400 fee for overseas health and social care workers is mean-spirited and shabby”.

Unite NHS members are clearly unimpressed. “With this prime minister warm words of praise come cheap, but a small financial gesture for NHS migrant workers, many of them low-paid, is beyond his compass. His stance is hypocritical,” said Jarrett-Thorpe.

“Tonight, we will have the Thursday ‘clap for carers by the people of the UK, many of them who voted for Boris Johnson as recently as last December – there is a big irony here. This charge should be waived immediately.”

Unite has 100,000 members in the health service.


By Shaun Noble

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