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Seven days in medicine: 9-15 May 2018

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 17 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2145

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Re: Seven days in medicine: 9-15 May 2018

Dear editor, regarding your article "Using NHS to Check for Illegal Immigrants" please note that the person, as opposed to an action, cannot be illegal. There are less emotive terms like irregular, or undocumented, or incompletely undocumented. It is unwise to use harsh, potentially derogatory language about people.

The World Congress on Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Health in May 2018 recommended the phrase irregular migrant, defined as “A person who, owing to unauthorized entry, breach of a condition of entry, failure to gain asylum, or the expiry of his or her visa, lacks legal authorization to reside in the country where they find themselves.” We recommend this to the BMJ and its readers, and indeed all health professionals and health related publications. It would be a small, logical and humanitarian step in the right direction.

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 May 2018
Raj S Bhopal
Professor of Public Health
Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, The University of Edinburgh
Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9 AG