No one should be afraid to go to the doctor, either because they can’t pay or might be punished. And doctors should not have to police the people they treat.
Since 1948, the NHS has given free health care to UK residents. Its founding principles were healthcare free for all, regardless of ability to pay. This was a universal right, which applied to all who lived in Britain.
On Monday 23rd October 2017, NHS England introduced regulations requiring ID checks for all patients accessing most secondary (non-emergency) care. This includes but not limited to maternity/ante-natal care, paediatrics (children) and cancer treatment. Trusts are forced to charge upfront those who cannot provide ID to prove their eligibility for NHS treatment. These regulations follow the introduction of a Health Surcharge – paid on top of Visa application fees. Both policies are introduced following the 2014 and 2016 Immigrations Acts.
Docs Not Cops is a campaign group of NHS professionals and patients who believe health is a right and not a privilege. This policy is a public health disaster that will add more pressure to A&E as people fearful of discrimination and fees will only turn up to hospital when their illness has been an emergency instead of taking preventative steps to avoid a crisis.
One nurse told the Huffington Post how a woman was treated in an ‘inhumane’ way as a result of these eligibility checks. Tthe racialised outcomes have been clear. A hospital has apologised for asking pregnant women if they are “economic migrants”. An NHS trust demanded that an 8 day old baby must prove their eligibility for free healthcare. Refugee pregnant women who are entitled to care have been too scared to attend ante-natal appointments, thousands of eligible patients including cancer sufferers have been wrongly denied NHS treatment because of they have been perceived to be “foreign”.
As NHS staff, we are trained to care all who need it, not turn people away. We are campaigning to restore the values that built our NHS of universal care and compassion.
The Government claims these new laws will save the UK money, but this is not true. There is little accurate research on health tourism, but what little there is points to health tourism bringing in more money than it costs the NHS. The cost of the new gate-keeping step will be immense.
Charging migrants for healthcare is the first step to normalising charging for everyone. Once the government has a charging system in place, it becomes much easier to gradually expand this to everyone else, regardless of nationality. Racism is being used to undermine our society’s commitment to universal healthcare, and the values of social solidarity which bind our society together.
- We are doctors, nurses, healthcare activists, students, teachers, workers, voters and tax payers.
- We are migrants, British citizens and permanent residents.
- We work in solidarity with Together Against Prevent, a group challenging the government’s Islamophobia in targeting all Muslims as potential terrorists, as well as other groups (we regularly work with Medact, Migrants Organise, and Feminist Fightback in particular)
We are fighting to protect the NHS, one of the best things about Britain.
- We demand the end of the Hostile Environment in the NHS
- End upfront charging for secondary care
- Scrap ID checks
- Don’t double the Health Surcharge – drop it!
Everyone is invited to join our campaign because these new laws will affect everyone. Join us.