Chester MP Chris Matheson is calling for action to exempt the NHS from charges to bring in staff from abroad.

The payments are known as the Immigration Skills Charge, and levied by the Home Office on any employer wanting to apply for a visa for someone to work in the UK for six months or under. Labour previously tabled an amendment which sought to stop the NHS being forced to pay the charge.

Chris said: “At a time when the NHS is in greater need of funding than ever before, it is a disgrace that this charge continues to be levied. The staff who come from all over the world to work for our health service make a huge contribution, and this stealth tax is an unnecessary barrier which also effectively punishes the NHS for the Government’s failure to train enough nurses and doctors.

“The pandemic has stretched our health services to the limit, and as our dedicated health workers continue to give their all on the frontline it is deeply disappointing that here in Chester, the Countess of Chester Foundation Trust has had to pay over £138,000 in these charges since 2017. This is all the more shocking given that prior to the pandemic, there were in fact 100,000 vacancies in trusts across England.

“It is high time that the Government scrapped these charges for the NHS, allowing the funds to be used on desperately needed resources, as well as recognising the immense contribution of overseas staff. I will be continuing to press the Government on this issue.”

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