They can’t say they didn’t know

11 July 2019
Akram Salhab

A distraught couple refused access to the body of their dead baby, a long-term NHS worker whose mother was refused the care she needs, an NHS ‘overseas visitors manager (OVM)’ scanning lists looking for foreign sounding names.

These shocking but all too common stories were uncovered this week by the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme, exposing the arcane and dangerous encroachment of the hostile environment into the National Health Service. Only fear of immigration enforcement and threats to healthworkers’ jobs prevents many more cases being brought to the public’s attention.

As with the revelations of the Windrush Scandal, the Government claimed they didn’t know and would investigate. As with Windrush they claimed the problem wasn’t the policy, only its implementation.

But healthcare workers, migrant communities and NHS campaigners say otherwise.

The British Medical Association (BMA)recently passed policy calling for a repeal of the hostile environment, echoing previous calls by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Healthcare workers are in no doubt as to the damage the policy is causing.

And the Government don’t even think the policy is working.

By their own admission they are trying to charge people who are least able to pay, and attempting to recoup such a minimal fee (0.3% of the NHS budget) that it probably costs more to implement the policy than it is bringing in. This is why the Government refused to publish the findings of the ID pilots it conducted, and is now refusing to publish (even to Parliament) the evidence of their review into the policy.

If it is so ineffective, as well as unjust, why bother with the policy?

Because the real target is not migrants, but the NHS itself. Now a charging regime exists for some, it is only a matter of time before it is rolled out to everybody – escalating the privatisation and destruction of the UK’s most important national institution. Everybody should be worried.

Thousands across the country are organising against this, and you can participate.

Join the Migrants Organise, Medact and Docs Not Cops campaign by signing our letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: https://act.patientsnotpassports.co.uk

We’ll be in touch to let you know about local campaigns and how you can join the fight.

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