“This is a great national service—it is a national institution—that needs funding, and those contributions help us to raise about £900 million.”

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister's Questions

May 20, 2020

Facts 

Boris Johnson was replying to a question from Keir Starmer who asked whether he thought it was right that “care workers coming from abroad and working on our frontline should have to pay a surcharge of hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds to use the NHS themselves?” 

He told MPs at PMQs that “This [the NHS] is a great national service—it is a national institution—that needs funding, and those contributions help us to raise about £900 million.”

He went on to say: “It is very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources, so with great respect for the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s point, I think it is the right way forward.”

The Prime Minister’s comments suggested that overseas care workers generated contributions in surcharges of £900 million (or a major part of this) towards the cost of the NHS. However, a detailed analysis by FullFact of annual reports from the Home Office show that this £900 million is the total amount paid by non-British residents working in all sectors through the immigration health surcharge over four years, rather than being only the contribution to the NHS. 

Verdict

Boris Johnson’s comments gave a false impression about the contribution made by care workers from abroad to the NHS. His full statement remains on the Commons record in defiance of the Ministerial Code.

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