Alex Cunningham MP slams Tory Government’s ‘stealth tax’ on local NHS Trusts

NHS Trusts trying to cope with the domestic skills shortage by hiring specialists from overseas have been charged millions of pounds by the Tory Government since 2017 – including almost £180,000 at North Tees and Hartlepool Trust.

A freedom of information request by the Labour Party has revealed that NHS trusts have had to pay extortionate fees to fill vital specialist roles that have been left empty by the Government’s failure to sufficiently train enough healthcare staff including doctors and nurses. 52 of the 224 NHS Hospital Trusts in England responded to the FOI request, revealing they had cumulatively paid £15,549,944 through the immigration skills charge. North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust have paid £178,223 since 2017.

The charge is known as the immigration skills charge and is levied by the Home Office on any employer wanting to apply for a visa for someone to work in the UK for six months. For large organisations like hospital trusts, this comes at a cost of £1000 per worker for the first 12 months and £500 for each subsequent 6 months.

Alex says:

“NHS Trusts, like North Tees and Hartlepool who cover my Stockton North Constituency, have been forced to recruit from overseas because of the Government’s own failure to properly train and recruit enough staff here.”

“The cost of this failure is being passed on to local NHS Trusts – leaving them to make difficult decisions between leaving specialist roles vacant or forking out expensive fees for overseas staff. This is simply unacceptable.”

“The immigration skills charge is little more than a stealth tax on our NHS, coming at a time when the Government should be supporting it most.”