NHS: The Indian Doctors In UK Asks PM Boris Johnson To Scrap Immigration Surcharge Amid Pandemic
NEW DELHI: As the Coronavirus pandemic is spreading its wings, it has badly affected the United Kingdom's National Health Service as more and more people fall prone to virus.
Thus, a hike has been announced in the Conservative Manifesto presented by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Anyone in the UK who has been on a work, study or family visa for a longer period than six months has to contribute in the IHS in order to raise additional funds for the NHS. The move has been taken to lower the burden imposed by the Coronavirus Outbreak.
Strongly opposing the same, the Indian doctors working within the UK's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) has written to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to demolish this 'unfair and discriminatory' surcharge which has increased from 400 pounds to 624 pounds per year.
"We believe that this surcharge is discriminatory and unfair, as the overseas workers are already paying their due share of National Insurance contributions, superannuation and income tax," read the letter sent to the Prime Minister by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), which has been lobbying against the IHS for many years.
The letter signed by BAPIO President Ramesh Mehta, chair JS Bamrah and Secretary Professor Parag Singhal also explained that NHS had never been in such an overstrained service. They appealed, "We request you to remove the health surcharge with immediate effect. The NHS has been in a workforce crisis for several years, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a worse time for an overstrained service, and we require all the help we can get to meet the challenges."
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The BAPIO says that Health Surcharge is unethical as it makes the Indian immigrants feel 'undervalued' along with added financial strain. It also discourages the BAPIO's recruitment drives from India.
By removing this, the government will demonstrate the genuineness of their caring attitude towards frontline staff," the letter added as thousands of retired Indian-origin doctors and nurses began retorting when the government appealed to rejoin the health service as it is facing considerable toil due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The number of cases has with over 9,500 positive cases confirmed and the death toll from the virus rising to 465 as of Wednesday.
Around 60,000 doctors have joined the NHS to be the backbone of the healthcare services as Mr Mehta as appealed for the same. "These are exceptional and extraordinary times and we are here to assist the health service as much as possible. We are advising our recently retired doctors to return to work, of course with the provision that if any of them are unwell or have a chronic illness they must follow the government advice and self-isolate."
In the course of a weekly briefing from 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson on Wednesday released a special Thank You to those returning to the service. "To all of you, and all the former NHS staff who are coming back now into the service, I say thank you on behalf of the entire country", he said.
To all our readers, please don't panic and be indoors for the next few weeks. Please abide by the hygiene guidelines issued by the health ministries. We are all in this together and shall fight to combat COVID-19.