A decision to refuse care on the basis of a patient’s inability to pay is incredibly dangerous.’ Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA

As a doctor, I can see that denying NHS care to immigrants is inhumane

Article in The Guardian
14 March, 2018

Populism in action. Regardless of consequences? Not so sure: letting migrants suffer and die of neglect may be part of the plan. The liberal outrage will fuel the populist reaction. Moreover, due to the absence of “firewall”, the health service is transferring their personal information to the immigration enforcement authorities, acting as an auxiliary of the Home Office. We can anticipate the populist reaction: the lawbreakers brought it unto themselves; if they are not happy, they can return home.

“Government guidance makes it a statutory duty for the NHS to charge patients not deemed to be “ordinarily resident” in the UK. This means that patients with precarious immigration status are left with bills of thousands of pounds. Since October last year they can be denied care if they are unable to pay upfront, as Thompson was. If patients are unable to pay, the Department of Health effectively punishes them by handing their personal information to the Home Office, where their inability to pay for healthcare may mean their immigration applications are refused…

Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK decades ago, but whose right to remain does not show in Home Office records, are now being excluded from work, housing and welfare benefits, as well as healthcare, and even held in immigration prisons, as the government’s “hostile environment” for migrants deepens border control across all areas of life.

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