Indian docs in UK protest doubling of surcharge, say will hurt patient care
UK-based Indian doctors and healthcare 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 pounds to 400 pounds per year. It is imposed on anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than six months in order to raise additional funds for the country’s statefunded National Health Service (NHS). The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) is lobbying the UK Home Office for a rethink over the charge, arguing that it would have an adverse impact on their attempt to recruit more healthcare professionals from India to meet staff shortages in the NHS. “Clinicians wishing to work in the UK are already facing burdensome processes relating to regulation and immigration, and this surcharge is only going to see UK losing out on quality healthcare professionals from non-EU countries,” notes a letter from BAPIO president Ramesh Mehta. “The current policy adversely affects the attraction of working in the NHS and will sabotage our own requirements of providing quality health services to our patients. Therefore, in the interest of patient safety we request that this unfair health surcharge for NHS-employed professionals be reversed,” the letter states.