A nurse with two children would have to work for 116 hours just to pay the charge.
Any party wanting to form the next government must make an explicit commitment to rescind the current Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for nursing staff, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns today.
A £400 charge is currently payable by all migrants from non-EU countries for themselves and for every dependant they have.
According to the College, a nurse with two children would have to work for 116 hours just to pay the £1,200 they will be billed under the current charge. If a Conservative Party pledge to further increase this charge to £625 per person goes ahead this would rise to 183 hours.
This is despite the fact that nursing staff from overseas employed in the UK already pay for the NHS through income tax and National Insurance payments.
Commenting on the analysis, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Our health and care services in the UK are stretched to breaking point, and cannot function without nursing staff from overseas.
“But our analysis shows that a nurse with two children is currently required to give up almost a month’s take-home pay a year simply to come and work here, whether they use NHS services or not, when they already pay for the Health Service through tax and National Insurance.
“Not only is this unjust – we also cannot afford any deterrents to staff from abroad just as nursing vacancies are hitting record levels, with 43,500 unfilled posts in the NHS in England alone.
“Hard-working nurses from overseas who give their all for patients in the UK must not be penalised in this way any longer. Any party wanting to form the next government must commit to abolish this cruel and heartless charge for nursing staff”.