Hospital Dr News

Government urged to create ‘new deal’ for international NHS and social care staff

The government has been urged to create a new deal for international NHS and social care staff that recognises their vital role in tackling COVID-19.

The Royal College of Physicians says a new deal should include all NHS and social care staff, and their spouses and dependants, being exempt from the International Health Surcharge.

The RCP, which represents over 37,000 medical professionals, made the call after commissioning a YouGov poll which shows clear public support for acknowledging the contributions of NHS and social care staff who have worked during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also calling for all NHS and social care staff who have worked during the pandemic, and their spouses and dependants should be given indefinite leave to remain.

Sixty-seven per cent of respondents thought it was unlikely that the NHS would have been able to tackle coronavirus without international staff, while 59% thought international staff who have worked in the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic should have the right to permanently stay in the UK.

Currently, many people coming to work in the UK have to pay an upfront annual fee (the NHS Health Surcharge) in order to be eligible to use the NHS as well as paying their visa fees.

The NHS Health Surcharge is currently £400 per year.

This poll shows that 59% of the public think international NHS and social care staff should not have to pay an annual charge to use the NHS.

The RCP also says the proposed NHS Visa should be extended to social care staff.

The poll reveals immense public appreciation for the international NHS and social care staff who have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with 69% of them calling for the government to publicly acknowledge their invaluable contributions.

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: “There is no doubt in my mind that our NHS would not be able to cope, even in ‘normal’ times, without the contribution of our international colleagues.

“Their work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been crucial to saving lives, and our polling results today clearly show that the public share our eagerness to reward them for their commitment and dedication.

“The government has an opportunity to reset the narrative and make the NHS a truly welcoming place to work for everyone. I hope they seize it.”

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