Immigrants: Health Services

Home Office written question – answered on 2nd February 2021.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of permanently removing the immigration health surcharge for all key workers contributing to the response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The overall purpose of Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is to ensure a contribution to our magnificent NHS is made by those who can access its services.

Health and social care workers from overseas are doing this already through their work. This is why the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care have worked to exempt these groups from payment of the IHS through the introduction of the Health and Care Worker visa and the launch of the IHS reimbursement scheme.

However, it is only fair on UK taxpayers to expect people arriving in the UK, to work in non-healthcare roles, to contribute to the comprehensive range of NHS services available to them from their arrival. IHS payments help to sustain vital NHS services and provide comprehensive access to those services, regardless of the amount of care needed during their stay.

Many other countries require those migrating to them to take out private health insurance and they can face charges if they need to access services, which can be far more expensive than the IHS and does not always provide the comprehensive cover the NHS does, especially for pre-existing conditions.

The IHS ensures those who choose to come to the UK to work, study or live do not need to worry about insurance or pay for unexpected treatment whilst they are here. This represents a fair deal for migrants, for the UK taxpayer and for our world-class NHS.

To date, the IHS has raised over £1.5 billion for the NHS throughout the UK. Income from the IHS is distributed to the devolved administrations, including the Scottish Government, in line with the Barnett formula.

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