Since April 2017 NHS Trusts have been obliged to check patients’ ID, with a view to determining their immigration status, before giving them treatment. Since 2014 certain migrants — those who do not have indefinite leave to remain or are not here on a temporary or student visa — have to pay 150% charges for secondary care.
These charges will now to be expanded to primary and emergency care and those who cannot pay will to be reported to the Home Office. Many of the people targeted for charging are refugees — some of the most vulnerable, and poorest. Yet the government says it wants to recoup £500 million through these charges.
Government policy is built on a racist narrative — that “health tourism” is rife (it’s not, it accounts for an estimated 0.02% of the total NHS bill). This policy will also encourage racial profiling and discrimination.
Arrangements for payment are supposed to be left to a doctor’s discretion but even those patients needing urgent treatment are meant to be asked for a “down payment”. Many health workers feel these rules destroy the trust patients must have in health services in order to get the treatment they need. Lives are being put in danger. Docs Not Cops is asking healthworkers to never check for immigration status and therefore never have to withold treatment.