We are still in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. The hope of a Covid-free world is now looking like a remote possibility, far in the future. But none of this has stopped the present government from pushing ahead with its plans to charge key workers higher fees.
The plight of key workers
We must all remember the key workers continuing to fight for the cause day in, day out. The delivery drivers transporting food from shop to doorstep, so we can continue to eat and still hold a sense of normality in our lives. The healthcare workers on the front lines, risking their precious lives on a daily basis without proper protection. This disease will not be manageable without them. It would have overwhelmed us without them. And yet, politicians and senior figures continue to betray their flippant and largely dismissive attitude with the Home Secretary opting to call these crucial workers ‘low-skilled’.
These ‘low-skilled workers’ are the ones on minimum wage, lacking in essential PPE and most notably, devoid of moral and physical support from the government. Despite this, they carry on and continue to be our life-saving heroes, working in uncomfortable uniforms, on their feet all day and night. Living with the constant danger of contracting the virus and transmitting it, most have chosen to isolate themselves away from their families for their safety. The amount of sacrifices made in these last four months is astronomical and often overlooked.
Enter the Tory’s surcharge
In May, Boris and his Conservative government have announced plans to increase the NHS surcharge from the current £400 to £624, beginning in October this year. A large percentage of key workers that are on the front line come from abroad. As a result of the new policy, they will now be subjected to pay this increased fee. This on top of taxes and national insurance. They are paying for the very service they are propping up. This surely cannot be right.
The Labour Party are calling for the government to scrap the proposed changes, saying that:
‘This would take a care worker being paid the National Living wage more than 70 hours to repay’.
Some have questioned why overseas NHS staff have to pay anything at all. Without them, many more deaths would have arguably occurred given the well-known staff shortages.
A policy that aims to increase the amount one has to pay to the NHS will only serve to deter health workers from all over the world from working in UK NHS hospitals.
Initially the government was saying that the surcharge was still ‘under review’, and keeping tight-lipped about it. However, it is now settled that they are pushing ahead with the new policy and according to Boris Johnson the new measures are ‘right’.
Public outrage immediately hit our social media timelines. One twitter user aptly tweeted that it was like: ‘coming to the UK, joining the British army and serving bravely’ only to be told ‘to pay for your bullets and ammo’.
The Doctors’ Association UK have also voiced their concerns over the charge, stating that this is ‘an insult’ to those who are serving the country at a time of its ‘greatest need’.
At this moment in time, we are subjected to a wait for any upcoming announcements from the government. It is yet to be seen whether opposition parties in the House, along with the general public can do anything to change the minds of the government.