Indian doctors in U.K. campaign against ‘unfair’ health surcharge

London: t is imposed on anyone in the country for more than 6 months

U.K.-based Indian doctors and health-care professionals are campaigning against what they describe as an “unfair” doubling of a health surcharge imposed on professionals from outside European Union (EU) living and working in Britain.

The “Immigration Health Surcharge” was introduced in April 2015 and from December last year, it was hiked from £200 to £400 per year.

Raising funds

It is imposed on anyone in the U.K. on a work, study or family visa for longer than six months, in order to raise additional funds for the country’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS).

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), the U.K.’s largest representative body for Indian-origin doctors, is lobbying the U.K. Home Office for a rethink over the charge, arguing that it would have an adverse impact on their attempt to recruit more health-care professionals from India to meet staff shortages in the NHS.

Clinicians wishing to work in the U.K. are already facing burdensome processes relating to regulation and immigration, and this surcharge is only going to see U.K. losing out on quality health-care professionals from non-EU countries, notes a letter from BAPIO president Ramesh Mehta and secretary Parag Singhal, sent to U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid earlier this month.

Staff shortage

According to the organisation, one in 11 NHS clinical posts are currently unfilled, rising to one in eight for nursing vacancies, and the severe shortage is likely to grow to around 2,50,000 by 2030.

Doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals from countries like India are considered the backbone of the U.K.’s health-care system as they take up critical posts across hospitals and clinics in the country, the BAPIO pointed out.

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