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

It is im­posed on any­one stay­ing for more than six months

The Hindu - - WORLD -

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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