By Rachael Grealish
Today in the Prime Minister’s Questions Boris Johnson said NHS staff from abroad, who are working on the frontline against COVID-19, will continue to have to pay for their healthcare.
It was reported yesterday NHS surcharge for migrant care workers coming from outside the European Economic Area was currently at £400 per year, going up to £624 in October – on top of national insurance and tax payed from their wages.
This has caused an outcry for the government to scrap these fees for NHS staff working on the frontline and was questioned today, in PMQ’s, by the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer.
Starmer asked: “Does the Prime Minister think that it’s right that care workers coming from abroad and working on our frontline should have to pay a surcharge of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds to use the NHS themselves?”
During his treatment for COVID-19 the PM was actually treated by healthcare workers from abroad and mentions them in his reply – but said NHS ‘needs funding’.
He said: “Mr Speaker I thought a great deal about this and I do accept and I do understand the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff and I have been the personal beneficiary of people and carers who come from abroad and frankly they saved my life.
“So I know exactly the importance of what he’s about [sic] on the the other hand we must look at the reality, this is a great national institution it needs funding and those contributions actually help us to raise about £900 million and it’s very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources so, with great respect to the point he [Keir Starmer] makes I do think that is the right way forward.”
This has been faced with backlash from some members of the public – even the ITV, Good Morning Britain, presenter and former journalist Peirs Morgan commented on the PM’s response calling it ‘appalling’.
The Labour Party released a statement following the PMQ question, saying: “Labour has announced today that it will seek to table an amendment to the Immigration Bill to exempt NHS staff and care professionals from this charge.”
Boris Johnson continued to say, during PMQ’s, the COVID-19 track and trace system will be in place by June 1, 2020 after being pioneered on the Isle of Wight, this month.