I’ve volunteered to do extra shifts to beat coronavirus, even though it means putting my health at risk

I’ve volunteered to do extra shifts in hospital, even though it means putting my health at risk.

I have been working for the Acute Medicine Team at University Hospital Birmingham Trust. These are the last few months of my training as a Foundation Doctor and I  have secured a post for 3 additional years in medical specialties.

Doctors and nurses working at the frontline are at increased risk of getting the virus due to the nature of the job we are doing. We are using protective equipment as much as we can but this risk is not decreased to zero.

I love medicine and I love being a doctor. I am very motivated to apply my medical knowledge and help patients, especially during this COVID19 crisis.  

This is one of the reasons why I declined my parents’ request to go back to my country of origin, Mauritius, when the number of deaths in the UK was rising. The borders of Mauritius are now closed, even to its residents.

While applying to stay in the UK for three more years to finish my core medical training, I am being asked by the Home Office to pay 1200 pounds in immigration health surcharge even though I have been paying taxes and National Insurance for 2 years. I find this disgraceful. 

This policy makes doctors feel undervalued for the work that we do, especially when we are risking our health to treat others and prevent the NHS from collapsing.

It is also discouraging doctors from abroad to come and work here and foreign doctors to stay in the UK as they need to pay £1200 per dependent. Hence a family of 4 will need to pay £4800 in NHS fees to renew their visa. This does not include the cost of the visa application. British doctors I have spoken to are outraged when I have told them about this policy.

I don’t want to be thanked on social media by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary, I just want the government to waive the health surcharge on visas for non-EU doctors so no one is prevented from helping with the crisis. 

  • A Government spokesperson said: “We are grateful for the vital contributions that doctors, nurses and other health or care professionals make in the national effort to tackle coronavirus.

    “Income from the Immigration Health Surcharge goes directly back into the NHS to help save lives.”

As told to Helena Horton. 

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