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Salisbury is spot on in her discussion of the NHS’s hostile position towards healthcare provision for overseas visitors (Comments, 21 September), but education is the solution! Junior doctors need more training in dealing with the complex issues surrounding the healthcare rights of foreign nationals, and this should start during medical school. The increasingly hard-line attitudes of successive governments towards this topic has further complicated the role of clinicians.
We work in a resource short, Brexit-obsessed world, where obtaining translators in clinical settings can be difficult. Combine this with emergency departments decorated with anti-healthcare tourism posters and we run the risk of Doctors themselves losing site of their core professional values. We must remind ourselves that the priorities of the ‘overseas visitors office’ are not necessarily the top priorities of Doctors. Equally, we should tell ourselves and our patients that as physicians we do not work for the home office and that as their Doctor we exist to put their best interests first.
As our society grows increasingly diverse we as a profession need to clarify our position so that we can be confident and uniform in our approach to immigration issues. We risk under-representing the people who need our advocacy most. Inadvertently strengthening an emergency care revolving-door mentality for these patients is a public health issue as much as a political one. When will the government listen?