London, United Kingdom – Anger is increasing against the British government over its refusal to exclude NHS workers abroad, many of whom are now risking their lives at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, from paying costs for health care.
While doctors, nurses and paramedics have been given a year’s release from accusations amid a pandemic, those who work in low-paying roles such as hospital cleaners, porters and guards must continue to pay.
The annual fee is currently 400 pounds ($ 490) and will rise to 624 pounds in October – a high amount for people who get a minimum wage. It must be paid for whether the individual uses health services.
This currently applies to people from outside the European Economic Area, but will include European migrants after the Brexit transition period ends.
Referring to his own battle with coronavirus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Wednesday: “I accept and understand the difficulties faced by our exceptional NHS staff and … I have been the personal beneficiary of caregivers coming from abroad and, frankly, saved my life. “
But, he added: “We must see the reality – this is a great national service, this is a national institution, it needs funding and contributions really help us … it is very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources.”
.@BorisJohnson explains why in his opinion the NHS surcharge for non-EEA immigrants should be fixed. His explanation was despicable: he argued, without shame, that it was there to make money. This is a * National Health Service *; it cannot be funded by making some immigrants pay twice for it. pic.twitter.com/r4GLRrRERW
– Prof. Tanja Bueltmann @ ? (@cliodiaspora) May 20, 2020
Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, tweeted: “What kind of people owe their lives to health workers abroad and then not only insist they must pay a additional cost to use NHS itself but also plans to increase it additional cost in the worst recession for 300 years. Answer: Boris Johnson, our Prime Minister. “
Omar Khan, director think tank racial equality Runnymede Trust, said: “The ‘principle’ behind NHS additional cost is that migrants can and must always be treated poorly and unfairly if you can get away with it. The same principle supports Windrush’s injustice, and it has a variety of other policies that still apply. “
Some within Johnson’s Conservative Party itself also condemned his decision to defend the allegations.
William Wragg, a Conservative MP, tweeted: “I will support the exemption of student fees for migrant workers and care workers. Now is the time for the generosity of enthusiasm for those who have done so much good. I am sure that colleagues @Cervervatives will support.”
The debate arose after the government won praise by reversing its decision to exclude migrant NHS workers who were underpaid from a mourning scheme that allowed family members to have unlimited vacation leave, free of charge, if NHS workers died.
NHS workers who have been expelled, until the u-turn, are included cleaners, coolies or guards, but the scheme has been implemented doctors and nurses from abroad.
The government turned around after political opposition and appeals were widely shared by Syrian refugees, Hassan Akkad, who asked Johnson to “reconsider” his position. Akkad, who works as a hospital cleaner at a London hospital, said he felt betrayed by the exclusion.
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