The Immigration Health Surcharge currently requires non-EU nationals to pay £200 per family member, per year of their visa to use the NHS.
But now that the government's new proposals have been approved by a majority of MPs, it is expected that a charge of £400 will apply from next year.
After a vote by members at Congress 2018, the RCN has been campaigning for the charge to be waived completely for nursing staff.
Despite the proposals being approved in the House of Commons, the RCN will continue its campaign and challenge the government and MPs to stop the changes.
With London being the most diverse region in the country, RCN London have been raising concerns about the effect of the charge, and its doubling, on its migrant workforce.
RCN London Regional Director Jude Diggins, said:
‘Charging overseas nursing staff - who pay tax and national insurance - to access the very health service they work in is hostile enough, but voting to double the charge is beyond cruel, mean-spirited and speaks to a government which looks increasingly inwards. Rushing the vote through parliament with just same days’ notice has also denied our members the opportunity to have their voices properly heard.
‘The doubled fee, which is now £400, may not be a grand sum for a government minister, but for overseas nursing staff with families, it is a cost they could do without, especially when trying to settle in a new country.
‘In London, 17 per cent of our nursing staff are from outside the EU. Without them, and their skills, the health service would grind to a halt and the capital’s communities would be far less rich.
‘The government rhetoric around valuing NHS staff means nothing without the action to back it up, and it means even less when the actions ministers prioritise are the ones which punish overseas NHS workers who choose to come and work in our health service. These brilliant health care workers, and their families, deserve so much better - that should begin with scrapping this charge completely.'
If you are a health care worker from outside the EU and would like tell your story, please email RCN London Regional Communications Manager Tom Colclough via firstname.lastname@example.org