AS I compose this on a Thursday afternoon, a few hours away from joining my neighbours and the whole nation in applauding our NHS and Key Worker Heroes, it is with a deep sense of anger that I write about the travesty of the Health Immigration Surcharge being levied against our low-paid, immigrant NHS and care staff.
This fee for the use of the NHS, due to soar from £400 to £624 in October, is unjust and hypocritical – clapping these carers, cleaners and porters one minute, then demanding that they hand over their hard-earned wages to receive the dedicated NHS care that they give – willingly and bravely – to the rest of us.
When our nation first fell into the awful grip of Covid-19, our low-paid and under-valued front line staff went from being classified as ‘low-skilled’ to ‘Key Worker’ overnight. Now, these very same Heroes, being paid the National Living Wage, need to work around 70 hours to pay off that fee.
There is a way to rectify this. MPs have an opportunity to back Keir Starmer’s amendment to the Immigration Bill, exempting our brave carers, cleaners and porters from this unfair charge. It is the right thing to do, and I look forward to seeing the list of MPs who troop into the lobby to right this wrong.
Tonight, I and my family will clap for our NHS and Key Worker Heroes. I hope that our clapping is turned into action, and that the people we relied on when times were bad are not punished when we have finally overcome this virus.