Britain is clapping for carers tonight after the Tories were forced to make a U-turn on healthcare fees for migrant health worker heroes.
People around the UK have taken to balconies, doorsteps and windows to applaud our NHS heroes in what has become a Thursday night tradition.
Millions paid tribute to the healthcare heroes for the ninth week in a row by putting their hands together and banging pots and pans.
‘Clap for key workers’ was also trending on social media, as many wished to also salute supermarket workers, delivery drivers and emergency frontline workers too.
Just hours before the weekly 8pm show of gratitude, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Tories had faced being shamed if they crowded out to clap tonight.
His government initially rebuffed calls to end the Immigration Health Surcharge for NHS staff coming to the UK to work for the health service – despite the PM crediting two migrant workers with saving his life.
The fee is going up in October, and would have seen NHS workers from abroad among the migrants forced to front up with £624 a year – on top of taxes and national insurance.
The Prime Minister had said yesterday that it was “right” to bill migrant healthcare workers on the coronavirus crisis frontlines to use the NHS if they get sick.
But just hours before the weekly clap for carers, Downing Street said Boris Johnson had been “thinking” about it “a great deal” as he made a u-turn on the policy.
The fees are presently paid in a lump sum before non-European Economic Area workers move to the UK, and come on top of visa and travel costs.
Piers Morgan was among prominent figures earlier singling out Boris Johnson by characterising the Prime Minister as a hypocrite if he clapped for carers tonight without reversing the surcharge decision.
Only weeks ago the leader had himself credited two migrant nurses with saving his life.
Mr Johnson praised New Zealander Jenny McGee and Portugese national Luis Pitarma after they cared for him at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital when he was struck ill with Covid-19.
Morgan tweeted pictures of the pair in a warning to the PM just hours before the Tory U-Turn.
The Good Morning Britain co-host wrote: “Don’t you dare clap for NHS/care workers tonight @BorisJohnson if you don’t abandon this disgusting NHS surcharge on the very people who saved your life.”
He later praised the PM for deciding to scrap the charge.
Mr Johnson’s fiance, Carrie Symonds, tweeted to raise awareness of the healthcare frontlines suffering from mental health during the Covid-19 crisis.
She wrote: “Clapping for our carers, particularly those going through so much on the frontline #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek“
The Tories were under pressure to waive the surcharge as a sign of gratitude to migrant NHS workforces like Jenny and Luis who have fought on the UK’s Covid-19 frontlines.
The decision was the second u-turn in 48 hours after the Tories reacted to outrage at reports migrant staff working for the NHS were excluded from a bereavement scheme.
NHS porters, cleaners and social care staff were not included in a Home Office scheme granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they die of coronavirus.
They will now get indefinite leave to remain in that scenario after Home Secretary Priti Patel bowed to pressure.