NHS Surcharge Hike For Foreign Healthcare Staff: A Step Too Far?

25 Nov 2019, 03 mins ago

It has been reported that the government plans to charge foreign NHS staff £625 a year to use the NHS, as well as increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge from £400 to £625 for all non-EU migrant workers. In addition, the government intends to extend the same surcharge to all EU citizens coming to the UK after Brexit.

The Immigration Health Surcharge, or “IHS”, is an annual charge payable by each member of a migrant’s family to enable them to use the NHS. The announced increase in this charge has raised concerns for the total bill a foreign nurse wanting to work in the NHS and migrating to the UK with their family will have to pay. Under the above proposals, a family consisting of the nurse in question and their spouse and two children will have to pay some £2,500 per year. (Note that the average annual salary for nurses is £23,137 and junior doctors from £27,000 to £46,000).

Organisations representing doctors and nurses have warned this policy risks worsening the staffing crisis within the NHS and discouraging foreign health professionals from coming to the UK even further. All this at a time when the NHS is suffering from the effects of widespread and long-term staff shortages and preparing for a winter many have said will put NHS resources under incredible strain.

Representatives of the Royal College of Nursing (“RCN”), the British Medical Association (“BMA”) and the Royal College of Physicians have been sharply critical of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to penalise foreign NHS staff in this way, believing they will prove counterproductive and suggesting the surcharge should in fact be scrapped for NHS staff altogether.

The BMA’s Dr Chaand Nagpaul was quoted as saying that “The Conservative party recently pledged an NHS visa to make it easier for overseas staff to work here but, with this latest policy, they would be doing the exact opposite. This shows a clear lack of judgement that risks exacerbating the current workforce crisis in the NHS … The health surcharge does nothing but penalise doctors who are choosing to come to the UK and work in an understaffed, underfunded and under-resourced NHS; doctors who enable the NHS to provide essential care to patients on a daily basis”.

The NHS surcharge was introduced by the Conservative government in 2015 and the amount payable per year had already been raised from £200 to £400 in January 2019 before this latest announcement of a planned increase to £625. The RCN was equally scathing of the government’s proposals, labelling the suggested inflated surcharge “pernicious and immoral” and the policy behind the increase “inhumane”.

Gherson have extensive experience in all aspects of UK immigration law regulations. If you would like any further information or have any queries with respect to your own circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.



The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2019


Angela Lei 

  Angela Lei

  Consultant solicitor