Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together Update and Migrant Surcharges letter for reuse

Yorks HCT meeting 29.5.20 (pdf)

Summary of actions:

  • Circulate Leeds letter calling for both and end to NHS surcharges on workers from overseas and to charging migrants and others with undocumented status so groups can amend and use if they wish.
  • Contact Gilda if you want to order one or more KONP rainbow banners : £25 for one including p&p but cheaper for larger quantities.
  • John to write a letter to the Catholic Diocese and C of E education urging delay in opening schools with assistance from Nick.
  • Local groups to start planning local action on or around Sat.4th July paying due attention to safety issues and share ideas: NHS birthday events and materials can be found at  https://mailchi.mp/keepournhspublic/april-newsletter-coronavirus-and-the-nhs-4076821

NB Please write to your MP to ask them to oppose the dangerous possibility of the NHS being on the table in the US trade deal negotiations. For info see We Own It’s website, especially the briefing from the trade justice group. https://weownit.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloadableresources/New%20briefing%20on%20NHS%20and%20Trade.pdf

You can also take a pic of yourself with this poster and post it widely.

Next meeting June 26th   4 – 5.30pm       ( Zoom info to be sent with a reminder closer to 26th)

The letter re NHS surcharges and migrant charges which Leeds KONP sent to councillors, the CCG, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust and some MPs in case you would like to adapt it for your own use:

Open letter to Leeds MPs,  councillors  and  hospitals  re  NHS Charges  1st May 2020

At this critical time when it is vital that there is unfettered access for all to the NHS, we are writing to you to urge you to take action to remove from our NHS all barriers to health care faced by overseas workers, migrants and anyone with undocumented status living in the UK.

The pandemic has highlighted:

  • That people born outside the UK account for almost a quarter of all staff working in hospitals and a fifth of all health and social care staff in the UK (1). Not only are our health and social care systems disproportionately reliant on overseas workers but staff from black and minority ethnic communities are dying from Covid-19 at a much higher rate than others and almost half of those staff who have died were born overseas (2).
  • That there is an uncomfortable and unjust disjuncture between the selfless work of staff from overseas who pay the same taxes as we do and the fact that they have to pay hefty fees to use the same NHS many of them are working so hard to sustain! These fees are currently over £400 per year but the Govt. has been planning to raise them to £625 and this applies not just to the staff member but each member of their family. For example a health professional from abroad with a partner and two children will have to pay £2,500 a year. The Home office acknowledged that the fees raised only £300m a year between 2015 and 2018. They were part of hostile environment legislation designed to deter immigration to the UK. (3)
  • That creating barriers to using the NHS for migrants and other undocumented residents in the UK is unsafe for all of us as well as generating fear and anxiety. Although treatment for Covid-19 is free, fear of charging down the line and of being reported to the Home Office by health authorities deters those people with uncertain status from using the NHS. Everyone must now feel confident to seek treatment as needed and to aid in tracing contacts of anyone identified as infected with the virus (4) a strategy the World Health Organisation is urging all countries to adopt (5). Ireland, Portugal and South Korea have already taken action to remove barriers. In the UK sixty cross party MPs have sent a letter to the Health Secretary calling for the immediate suspension of charging for migrants and all associated data sharing between the NHS and the Home office (6). It follows a similar demand to Government from medical groups including the British Medical Association and Doctors of the World UK.

We believe that now, more than ever, it is vital to end the hostile environment in the NHS and ensure unfettered access for everyone to free health care. We are one community!

We therefore call on our MPs to urge the Government:  

  • to drop surcharges for health care on workers from overseas
  • stop all migrant charges and publicise this widely to encourage people to use the NHS when needed

We call on our Local Hospitals to:

  • Suspend the NHS charges and stop reporting patient details and debt to the Home Office
  • Take down all “hostile environment“ notices from hospitals and clinics
  • Convey to the public that your hospital intends to treat everyone, freely and regardless of immigration status, as part of the effort to contain COVID-19

We call on our local Council to give substance to the title “City of Sanctuary” by:

  • Doing all in their power to support and encourage ending health charges to migrants and health surcharges on staff from overseas

We call on trade unions, political party branches/constituencies and community organisations

  • To endorse and publicise this letter to your members and use your political influence to pursue these demands.


  1. https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/news-item/one-in-four-hospital-staff-born-outside-the-uk-new-nuffield-trust-analysis-reveals
  2. https://www.hsj.co.uk/exclusive-deaths-of-nhs-staff-from-covid-19-analysed/7027471.article
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/03/calls-grow-scrap-nhs-surcharge-migrant-healthcare-workers-coronavirus
  4. BMJ Covid-19: Contact tracing requires ending the hostile environment. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1320.full
  5. BMJ editorial “Covid-19: why is the UK government ignoring WHO’s advice?” https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1284
  6. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-undocumented-migrants-deaths-cases-nhs-matt-hancock-a9470581.html



Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together Meeting minutes

Yorks HCT mtg 1.5.20 final

Summary Action Agreed

  1. Push the “Test, test, test, PPE, Keep Key Workers Virus free” message. Gilda can send A4 rainbow poster on request and will pass on a new one 999 is preparing
  2. Consider taking the clap out from our streets to more public places such as outside hospitals, maybe even Social Care homes.
  3. Spread campaign re migrant charging (Leeds open letter attached)
  4. Press local and regional health and Social Care Scrutiny Boards to meet (Jenny writing)
  5. Start some serious campaigning for a national, free at the point of use, public national Social care service.
  6. Don’t lose sight of Trade deals and exert what pressure we can on our MPs et al
  7. Do all we can to support whistle-blowers
  8. Think creatively about co-ordinated celebration, protest, campaigning and maybe even marching in July. Possibly on the weekend of 4th and 5th and maybe 25th as well.

Nationalising Special Purpose Vehicles to end PFI: a discussion of the costs and benefits by Helen Mercer and Dexter Whitfield:


Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together Network Meeting notes

1. Discussion re the new political landscape post election
John Puntis gave a short introduction based on these notes circulated beforehand :
NHS became a major issue (thanks to campaigners) in election – forced Johnson to make promises. Roy Lilley
came up with a list of these. They are already being broken! (https://lowdownnhs.info/news/after-the-
Queen’s speech enshrined promise of extra money in law – but this funding is inadequate. NHS Providers Chief
Exec Chris Hopson – if rate had gone up as before 2010, budget would now be £35m higher.
Government says giving “£34bn in cash terms” over 5 years – first year’s extra frontline £5.5bn and by 2023/24
extra £30.5bn – but NHS needs money now, and has lost out on underinvestment.
Note also that “£34bn in cash terms” if adjusted for inflation and cost pressures, the government’s own figures
show it will be worth only £20.5 bn in real terms.
Real budget for NHS in 2024 will be way below what is needed (increased population, more chronic illness, new
treatments) – Trusts now in debt of £14bn – BMA estimates £6.2bn short a year on top of existing deficits.
November 2019: 2.1 million A&E attendances – 5.2% increase from last year; 94.9% bed occupancy – waiting
list grown to 4.6 million – worst ever performance against 4 hour standard
Will continue to impact on mental health, GP and community services.
Social care – no solution; “cross party consensus”
6000 new GPs not included in legally binding proposals; promise of 5000 made in 2015 by Hunt and reiterated
5 times + overall reduction in 1000 WTE. 50k nurses (18k already working!)
Nursing bursary has not been restored – it is £5k annual maintenance grant – still have to pay £9k tuition fees
(nurse applications fell by 30% after abolition)
12.5% of NHA staff are foreign nationals; “new visa to ensure fast track entry” but massive fall in recruitment
from EU; £400 for visa plus £625/person immigration health charge annually
Scrap hospital car parking (less money for hospitals) – only “for those in greatest need” (abolished already in
Scotland and Wales)
“NHS Long term plan Bill” – no explanation how LTP can be implemented, but stripping away accountability
and bringing in Integrated Care Provider contracts with scope for major private involvement
“40 new hospitals” – only 6 will get beyond drawing board by 2024; 21 seed funding; 20 some money for
upgrades and maintenance, but 100 that have asked for capital project funds rejected
Nigel said that he thought that John Ashworth and Labour in general were very poor on the NHS during the
election. They focused on threats from America in the future which the Tories could dismiss and didn’t mention
WOS. The Tories pumped out a lot of lies. “We are in a context of misinformation “

Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together this Friday

Friday 17th 1.15 – 3.30 at Unison Regional office, Commerce House, Wade Lane, Leeds LS28NJ

There will be hot drinks and some sustenance available from 1pm.

Saturday 8th February 11-4 – next national meeting of Health Campaigns Together affiliates, Unite offices on Thoebalds Road in London

Saturday 4th April, also at Unite, annual AGM of HCT will be in the same venue on Sat 4th April.

Join us in September and October – Free for All and Under the Knife

Don’t forget Banner Theatre’s Free For All show on 20th Sept. – 7.30 at Seven Arts Centre in Chapel Allerton,  £5 tickets via https://www.sevenleeds.co.uk asap! Banner Theatre is promising powerful songs, dynamic music, unique video footage and moving story telling.


Friday 18th October “ Under the Knife” film showing, HEART, Headingley – free! It includes footage of Yorkshire campaigners. The film is being launched at the Curzon in London later this month with quite a fanfare then showings will take place across the country the week beginning 14th October. Other showings are being planned

The West Yorks and Harrogate Integrated Care System is up and galloping! Some excerpts

If you want to hear more or challenge the plans you can come along to the public “gallery” at

– Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board 16.9 at 1.50pm at the Moyes Centre, Bishop Way, Seacroft LS146NU and/or

– Leeds Adults, Health and Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board on 17.9 1.30 in the Civic Hall .

Meanwhile please see and sign the petition against Trade Deals which KONP has worked on with We Own it an, Global Justice et al. https://weownit.org.uk/nhs-trade-deal-action

Join us demonstrating at the Tory Party Conference Sunday 29th Sept. assembling 12 noon in Oxford Road, Manchester. You can book places on Leeds Trades Council coach at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leeds-coach-to-manchester-to-the-protest-against-tory-party-conference-tickets-71996065169

And there is still time to book places on the Mental Health Summit in London organised by KONP , Health Campaigns Together and Mental Health Time for Action. Sat. 28th September at the Royal Free Hospital in London 10-5pm. Info and booking at https://keepournhspublic.com/its-time-to-act-mental-health-crisis-summit-launched/

Hope to see you at the next meeting on Wed 25th September 6.30-8pm which will focus on developing our campaign strategy for the coming months. We need your ideas !

Tomorrow – important meeting on integrated care in Yorkshire

Don’t miss Leeds KONP meeting tomorrow wed 12th 6.30-8pm in the Victoria Hotel behind Leeds Town Hall. ! At the last meeting we agreed to reserve most of this meeting to decide on what we should be asking Leeds LA in particular to do regarding the very rapidly developing Integrated Care System in West Yorks & Harrogate . Time is of the essence!

No prep required but if you feel up to some reading in advance you might like to have a look at these documents:




Hope to see you tomorrow

Northern Health Campaigns Together Conference flier and latest actions

HCT flier HCT_Northern_Conference_29.6.19_early_bird__flier_23.3.19

Minutes KONP_Leeds_mtg_24.4.19

Coming up

Sat. May 4th TUC Mayday march 11.30 at Art Gallery – need people to carry KONP banner, placards etc and give out fliers.

Wed May 8th 6.30 in the Vic : Leeds KONP discussion on Labour with Councillor Paul Trusswell – need to advertise and draw others in.

Sat. May 18th Banners held High Wakefield : parade, film, talks, theatre, stalls . Assemble 11am at Smyth Street, WF1 1ED near Westgate Train Station The theme this year is “A Land Fit For Heroes? “ in the aftermath of World War One so very relevant to us. The PCS Samba band will be there !

Sat 1st June and maybe also Sat 8th June : Leeds KONP stall – time and venues to be posted

Sat 15th June KONP AGM in London

Sat 29th June Northern Health Campaigns Together Conference at St. George’s Centre next to LGI ( see early bird flier attached )

NHS 71st birthday events ( on or around 5th July ) Ideas welcome; details to be decided.

Sat 13th July : Kirkstall Festival – looking at running a stall with support from Leeds Hospital Alert 11 – 4ish

Date of Next Meeting Wed. May 8th discussion on Labour policy and practice and how we can influence it from inside and outside the party. 6.30 -8pm in the Victoria Hotel, immediately behind Leeds Town Hall