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Royal College of Physicians urges government to create ‘new deal’ for international NHS and social care staff

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has called on the government to create a new deal for international NHS and social care staff that recognises their vital role in the frontline response to COVID-19 and the important part they will continue to play in the future.

The proposed new deal includes three asks:

  • All NHS and social care staff, and their spouses and dependants, should be exempt from the International Health Surcharge.
  • All NHS and social care staff who have worked during the pandemic, and their spouses and dependants should be given indefinite leave to remain.
  • The proposed NHS Visa should be extended to social care staff.

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

Sixty-seven per cent of respondents thought it was unlikely that the NHS would have been able to tackle coronavirus without international staff, while 59% thought international staff who have worked in the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic should have the right to permanently stay in the UK.

Currently, many people coming to work in the UK have to 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. Today’s polling showed that 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 care staff who have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with 69% of them calling for the government to publicly acknowledge their invaluable 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.”

Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,679 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 7th May 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).