London Diary: Bad news for immigrants

Immigrant workers may be forced to cough up “at least double” of what they pay now to use the services of the NHS, the famed National Health Service

NHS workers protest in London asking for a pay raise, 13 July 2023 (Photo: Getty Images)
NHS workers protest in London asking for a pay raise, 13 July 2023 (Photo: Getty Images)

Hasan Suroor

Immigrant workers may be forced to cough up “at least double” of what they pay now to use the services of the NHS, the famed National Health Service.

The immigration health surcharge, which costs £624 per year (Rs. 67 thousand), is likely to be raised to £12,000 (Rs. 1.29 lakh) a year even as people are struggling to deal with a severe cost-of-living crisis. 

‘The plans, which are expected to be submitted to the Treasury in the coming weeks, are a way of raising hundreds of millions of pounds of extra revenue for the NHS at a time when its capacity and finances are increasingly under strain,’ The Times reported, hinting that the surcharge could be raised further for older immigrants, who are likelier to use the health service than younger workers.

The surcharge, first introduced in 2015, requires migrant workers and their families to make an extra contribution to the NHS in order to avail of its services. This charge applies to most foreign nationals who come to work, study or stay with family in the UK for six months or more. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that most international students would no longer be able to bring family members with them to the UK in a move to curb immigration, amid growing pressure on him from his party’s right wing ahead of next year’s general election.


UK hospitals rife with racism

Britain’s National Health Service is run effectively by migrants, especially Indian and other Asian doctors and nurses, but it is apparently rife with racism leading to a debilitating brain drain. 

A “stain on the NHS that is destroying the lives of staff and patients” is how the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian James, has described it.  

“We see its pernicious effects on colleagues who are leaving in droves. It can be seen in unfair pay gaps, the disparities in disciplinary processes and the glass ceiling that stops doctors from minorities and other ethnic backgrounds securing management positions,” he said at an international conference in Liverpool.

Tackling racism in the workplace, James said, was key to recruiting and retaining psychiatrists and other health practitioners. 

“It is a stain on the NHS. It damages mental health. It destroys lives: the lives of patients and colleagues. The NHS has a moral, ethical and legal duty to do much more to stamp out racism in all its forms,” he said.

His warning comes close on the heels of a report by the NHS Race and Health Observatory highlighting disparities in health and social care based on race. Racist Britain?


Sunak jug

Rishi Sunak joins a long line of prime minsters who have been immortalised in the form of a ‘Toby jug’—a beer jug in the form of a man, usually seated and holding a pipe and a mug. It’s being sold in the House of Commons gift shop for £32 apiece. 

It is a British tradition to commemorate all prime ministers thus. However, it has not gone unnoticed that the Sunak jug has been priced cheaper than those of his predecessors.

‘Must be the only thing in the country not affected by inflation,’ noted The Times.

But most Indian tourists might still find the £32 price tag (approximately Rs. 3,400) a bit too high. 


A new ‘wonder diet' regime

Want to stay healthy and boost the quality of your life without making too much effort? If so, Michael Mosley is your man, a British health  ‘guru’ whose ’16 tips’ to improve physical fitness have got the media buzzing with interest. 

He claims that his regimen differs from other healthy diet regimens in that ‘you don’t need an overhaul of your life to feel better’. 

'Small changes can yield big benefits in terms of better mood, improved sleep, a sharper brain and reduced risk of disease,’ says Mosley.

London Diary: Bad news for immigrants

The ideas contained in his book, Just One Thing: How Simple Changes Can Transform Your Life, are claimed to be  ‘scientifically proven’ ways to improve health and wellbeing in a sustainable way. 

‘I am so convinced of their benefits that many of them now form a part of my daily routine. The advantage of aiming for bite size goals—doing just one thing differently—is that they will get you thinking.’

These include avoiding drinking coffee the first thing in the morning (later in the day you can have up to three cups of coffee). Other tips are: Stand up for two to three minutes every hour. Eat oily fish twice a week. Have a nap after lunch. Eat an apple a day. 

But the most interesting is: ‘Dance for five minutes a day—good for fitness.’ And ‘turn up bathroom tap to “cold” for ten seconds at the end of your shower to boost your immune system!’ 

On the face of it, they do sound incredibly simple, but the jury is still out on whether they really work.


And, lastly, humble microwave-food has suddenly become fashionable as the cost-of-living crisis is forcing Brits to embrace ‘kitsch cooking’, dramatically pushing up demand for microwaves and microwave recipes.

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