A NURSING union has slammed plans to double a health charge for overseas nursing.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) North West said the charge is unjust and risks worsening the current shortage of nursing staff in the region.

Government plans would see the immigration health surcharge raised from £200 to £400

The charge is payable by non-EU nationals holding a general visa to work in the UK.

And the RCN is calling for nurses to be exempt from the levy – which they also have to pay for each of any children they have.

Estephanie Dunn, regional director of the RCN North West, said: “For hospitals and other NHS providers who are already struggling to deploy enough staff to maintain consistently good standards of patient care, this is the last thing they need.”

But Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said it is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS.

"Even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily," she added.