Main Auditorium, Belfast Waterfront, 2 Lanyon Place, Belfast, BT1 3WH
Resolution, submitted by the RCN Bedfordshire Branch
That this meeting of RCN Congress calls on Council to demand that the UK Government urgently waive the immigration health surcharge fees for nurses on work permits and their dependents.
In April 2015, changes were made to the way in which the NHS charges overseas visitors for NHS hospital care in the UK (Parliament, 2015).
An immigration health charge (or ‘surcharge’) is now payable by non-EEA nationals who apply for a visa to enter or remain in the UK for more than six months. People with indefinite leave to remain in the UK and those not subject to immigration control (for example, diplomats posted to the UK) are not liable to pay the surcharge.
The stated purpose of this policy is to ensure that those coming to the UK who are not ‘ordinarily resident’ make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of their health care.
However, a key challenge is that the definition of who is ‘ordinarily resident’ is fluid and there are waivers and exceptions in many circumstances.
It is also morally questionable to expect non-EEA nurses seeking to live and work in the UK to pay the health surcharge, given that they pay national insurance and income taxes, as well as providing a vital service to the public.