Dr Sonia Adesara spoke at tonights General Meeting to tell Wimbledon Labour Party members about the organisation Docs Not Cops and their campaign People Not Passports to end the hostile environment in the NHS.
The Immigration Act 2014, which came into force in 2015, saw the expansion of pre-existing charging regulations for ‘overseas visitors’ using the NHS. This included broadening the group of people who are chargeable, introducing an ‘immigration health surcharge’ for those seeking visas to enter the UK, and up to 150% charge for treatment in secondary care at the discretion of NHS Trusts. Since 2017, NHS Trusts have a duty to check the eligibility of all patients before providing treatment in secondary care, and, for certain treatments, patients may be asked to pay upfront or risk being turned away.
There are three key elements being challenged by Docs Not Cops:
- the ID check, which is based on the appearance of the patient or their name, which is institutional racism.
- data sharing agreements between the Home Office and hospitals, GPs and schools, which undermine trust and create fear.
- charges (often up-front) for secondary (non life-saving) and community care, that are punitive and prevent necessary treatment, causing unnecessary deaths that are without dignity and bereaved relatives being chased for vast sums of money.
These measures not only contradict the healthcare worker’s primary duty of care to the patient, they also scapegoat migrants and creates further problems. Access to healthcare is a human right.
Having introduced the administrative processes for patient charging, the structure is now in place and the concept normalised, so that in theory paying for treatments could easily be rolled out to other groups of people – or everyone.
Further details and resources can be found on their websites, and you are encouraged to campaign to your Healthcare Trust and MP to ensure they are aware of the strength of feeling on this issue. Wimbledon Labour Party will be supporting their campaign and helping raise awareness.