, , , , , ,

City MP voices concern over local NHS services being hit hardest by new Tory staff charges

Portsmouth’s NHS services have been spending millions of pounds a year on government charges to bring in much-needed staff from abroad making it the worst-hit area in the country, damning new figures have revealed.

Figures show that Portsmouth has been the hardest hit by this new Tory Immigration Skills Charge. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had paid the most out of any NHS trust in the UK – £2,007,000 since 2017, while in 2019/2020 Solent NHS Trust was forced to fork out £5,000.

The stats are even more eye-watering when compared to other trusts across the country. In the Conservative MP for Ribble Valley’s local Lancashire Care Trust, the total charges amounted to £115,000 – meaning Portsmouth paid £1,892,000 more in the same time. In the Tory held constituency, the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust also paid £2,592 – a figure incomparable with the costs faced by Portsmouth.

The full breakdown of Portsmouth NHS Trust charges is:

2017/18: £306,000         

2018/19: £655,000         

2019/20: £972,000         

2020/21: £74,000

Total: £2,007,000

Paying tribute to NHS staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Our NHS staff have shown unprecedented heroism amid this pandemic, putting others before themselves and selflessly working for our community. Through regular meetings with the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, I know their ingenuity has allowed them to have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. It is wholly unjust that their reward for demonstrating such robust planning is disproportionately high staff charges.

While Ministers clap for health workers each evening on their doorsteps, behind closed doors they have been charging NHS trusts millions simply for employing much needed foreign staff. This is punishing our NHS for government’s failure to properly recruit.

The fact Portsmouth has been worst hit shows that time after time our community is forced to disproportionately bear the brunt of regressive, costly Tory policy.”

The city MP also stated that despite the additional charges faced by the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, he has no doubt that they will ‘continue to excel in serving the needs of patients’.

Shadow Immigration Minister, Holly Lynch MP said:

“Local NHS trusts require specialists from overseas, yet the Tories are punishing hospital budgets for their own failure to train enough skilled staff,”

“The irrationality of the immigration skills charge for NHS trusts has been underlined by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The Conservative Government should be doing all they can to support the NHS. Instead, they are presenting trusts with an unenviable choice: either leave life-saving specialist roles unfilled, or fork out expensive fees for overseas staff.”

Analysis of data released under Freedom of Information laws to the Labour Party suggested that since 2017, 52 trusts paid £15,549,944 to the Government through the immigration skills charge.

The charge is referred to as the immigration skills charge and is imposed by the Home Office on any employer wanting to apply for a visa for someone to work in the UK for six months or more under either a tier 2 (general) visa or a tier 2 (intra-company transfer) visa.