RCP urge ‘new deal’ for international NHS and social care staff

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has called on the UK government to create a new deal for international NHS and social care staff, recognising the vital role played they will play in the frontline response to coronavirus and the important part they will continue to play going forward.

Primarily, the proposed new deal asks for three main aspects to be addressed:

  • RCP want to see all NHS and social care staff, and their spouses and dependants, to be exempt from the International Health Surcharge.
  • Equally, they would like to see all NHS and social care staff who have worked during the pandemic, and their spouses and dependants, should also be given indefinite leave to remain, in appreciation of their efforts to support coronavirus efforts in this country.
  • They also urge the proposed NHS Visa be extended to cover social care staff as well.

The RCP represents over 37,000 medical professionals and made the call after commissioning polling data which showed clear public support for acknowledging the efforts and contributions of NHS and social care staff who have worked through the pandemic.

According to the data, 67% of respondents thought it was unlikely the NHS would have been able to tackle coronavirus without international staff, while 59% thought international staff who worked in the NHS during the outbreak should have the right to permanently stay in the UK.

Currently, many people coming to work in the UK pay an upfront annual fee – the NHS Health Surcharge – in order to be eligible to use the NHS, as well as paying their visa fees. The polling commissioned by the RCP suggested 59% of the public think international NHS and social care staff should not have to pay an annual charge to use the NHS.

The polling also revealed immense public appreciation for the international NHS and social scare staff who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with 69% of them calling for the government to publicly acknowledge their vital contributions.

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: “There is no doubt in my mind that our NHS would not be able to cope, even in ‘normal’ times, without the contribution of our international colleagues.

“Their work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been crucial to saving lives, and our polling results today clearly show that the public share our eagerness to reward them for their commitment and dedication.

“The government has an opportunity to reset the narrative and make the NHS a truly welcoming place to work for everyone. I hope they seize it.”


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