Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton nurse's joy at overseas NHS fees government U-turn

Eva Omondi Image copyright Eva Omondi
Image caption Eva Omondi treats coronavirus patients at the hospital in Bedfordshire

A nurse has expressed her relief after the government said overseas NHS staff would no longer have to pay an extra charge towards the health service.

Eva Omondi, who works at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, had been facing an £11,000 bill.

On Thursday, Boris Johnson's spokesman said the PM had asked the Home Office and Department for Health to exempt overseas NHS staff and care workers.

Mrs Omondi said she was "overwhelmed with joy".

The health immigration surcharge on non-EU migrants is £400 per year and will rise to £624 in October.

Mrs Omondi, originally from Kenya, said she would have had to pay the fees to cover three-year visas for herself and five family members in one go, meaning the surcharge would have cost her more than £11,000.

Image copyright Eva Omondi
Image caption It would have cost Eva Omondi more than £11,000 to pay for her family to use the NHS

She called the charge a "rip-off" and a "triple tax, which is already being paid through taxes and National Insurance".

Mrs Omondi said a "burden has been taken off my shoulders" and NHS staff and support workers can "now go into work with a smile".

She thanked the Royal College of Nursing for "putting constant pressure on the government to scrap the immoral surcharge" and Mr Johnson "for the positive move".

"Please remember we are not health tourists," she added. "Any professional who is here legally contributes positively to the economy of this country."

Mr Johnson's spokesman said: "The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives.

"NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make."

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