Immigration Health Surcharge of UK was hiked from £200 to £400 last December. Indian doctors based in the UK are now campaigning against the surcharge which they deem unfair.
Immigration health surcharge is imposed on people who come to the UK for longer than 6 months. People on a Work Visa, Study Visa or Family Visa need to pay this health surcharge. The health surcharge is used to raise extra funds for the National Health Service of the UK.
The BAPIO (British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin) is the biggest representative body of doctors of Indian origin. It is campaigning against the surcharge and wants the UK Home Office to reconsider the hike. As per the BAPIO, the increased surcharge will make it difficult to hire more doctors from India as the NHS is facing a workforce shortage.
Ramesh Mehta, BAPIO President, says that Indian doctors already need to go through a lot of immigration and registration regulations. The hike in the surcharge is going to make the process even more burdensome. Thus, the UK may be losing out on quality healthcare professionals from non-EU nations.
According to BAPIO, one in every 11 clinical positions in the NHS is currently vacant. The labour shortage also affects nurses and 1 in 8 nursing posts is vacant. The shortage is likely to grow to about 250,000 by 2030.
Medical professionals from countries like India are considered to be the backbone of the healthcare system in the UK. The BAPIO pointed out that such professionals take up critical positions across various hospitals across the UK.
The BAPIO has been instrumental in organizing fellowship programs for doctors from India. These doctors can then take up NHS positions after they have completed their training in the UK. However, the BAPIO fears that the hiked surcharge would put an additional financial burden on such doctors.
Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced by the UK Govt. in April 2015. The Govt. says that since then the surcharge has raised over £600 million, as quoted by The Economic Times. The Govt. estimates that it should be able to raise an additional £220 million with the doubling of the surcharge.
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