Migrant healthcare: public health versus politics

Shameful Treatment of Migrants

17 February 2012

Delamothe[1] with evidence, highlights the hypocrisy of politicians and the UK government with regard to healthcare of migrants. Many will know that during the last general election, politicians embarked on a rather insensitive campaign to target non-European immigrants to the UK[2].There is little doubt that such anti-migrant sentiments, specifically against non-Europeans--albeit they seem to account for only 20% of total immigration[2]-- have empowered both overtly and covertly racist in our society to higher level. Refusal of formula milk to HIV positive mothers is another astonishing revelation [1].So much for a country that promotes humane and non-degrading treatment through Human Rights legislature.

GPs who unashamedly pander to anti-migrant policies and deny services to people solely on their immigration status have already been threatened with legal action [3]. Treating migrants less favourably entirely due to their immigration status is not a specific power that has been bestowed upon GPs either through their General Medical Services Contract or by any other means; in fact, GPs should not “request any proof of identity or of immigration status from patients wishing to register”[4]. Further such refusal to register could, among other things, amount to unreasonable exercise of their discretionary powers and breach of the Equality Act 2010. In this regard, GP negotiator Dr Naugpal is quoted as saying [3], “ GP practices should not be policing the eligibility of patients for NHS treatment, or whether they are failed asylum seekers”. Hence, GPs who venture against migrants would be risking their own professional reputations as well as the resources of their indemnity insurers.

References

[1]BMJ 2012;344:e924

[2]http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/02/fallacy-immigration-control

[3]http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/newsarticle-content/-/article_display_list/13234713/gps-forced-to-register-illegal-immigrants-after-threat-of-legal-action

[4]http://www.hpa.org.uk/MigrantHealthGuide/GeneralInformation/MigrantsAndTheNHS/

Competing interests: migrant

Jay Ilangaratne, Founder

www.medical-journals.com, East Yorkshire

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