BMA pass motion denouncing the Immigration Act

We are so happy! Motion 328 asking the BMA to denounce the Immigration Act and to promote the value immigrants bring to the NHS has passed!

Some excellent additional points were made, including how the Immigration Act raises safeguarding issues, how the infrastructure being implemented could eventually be used to charge all, regardless of immigration status, and the contractual difficulties that arise from asking doctors to act as border guards.

To see all of the action go down, please watch the following video from hour 3 exactly. It is about 10 minutes long.

http://www.bma.public-i.tv/core/portal/arm-thurs

Thank you to our colleague to Dr. Megan Parsons for presenting the motion. And thanks to you for supporting!

If you can, please do spread the message!

MOTION 328:

Motion by MEDICAL STUDENTS CONFERENCE. This conference is concerned about the impact of charging migrants for NHS services.

We ask the BMA, the Chair of BMA Council and the Chair of the International Committee to:

i) Run training workshops for BMA members about the influence immigration legislation has on doctors’ clinical practice.

ii) Commission a report into the negative impacts of the Immigration Act on patient care and access to health services.

iii) Run a public awareness campaign (including the production of materials, online infographics) on the value of migrant health workers to the NHS.

iv) Engage with other health unions and professional associations to issue cohesive guidance to all NHS staff (including administrative staff) advising them not to partake in any process of monitoring or deciding upon a patient’s migration status.

OUR OPEN LETTER TO THE BMA

We, the undersigned, are concerned about the the impact of the charges for migrants using NHS services laid out in the Immigration Act 2014 and its proposed updates. We support the British Medical Association (BMA) in renouncing the Bill at the forthcoming conference.

Currently, many non-EU residents pay a health surcharge (on top of their NI and tax contributions) to access NHS secondary and tertiary care; still more people living and working in the UK are now required to pay per-service, as the Act outlined charges at 150% of what it costs the NHS and made collection of debts by NHS trusts mandatory. A government consultation put out earlier this year has suggested extension of these policies so that primary and emergency care, as well as ambulance services, will also be chargeable.

The Act is inflammatory, pandering to anti-immigration sentiment, and falsely blaming the crisis in NHS funding on migrants who already contribute, or who could contribute to society. The charges and top-ups create a two-tier system that, for now, distinguishes between migrants and British citizens, but in the years to come could be used to distinguish insured from non-insured.

The legislation is discriminatory, and it must be recognised that decisions on who should be paying are often made on the grounds of racial profiling. There is no consistency on the interpretation of the eligibilities for care, and many who should be exempt are being charged falsely or opportunistically. Moreover, those that are eligible are confused as to what services they can and cannot access. And for those who know that they might be charged, or if undocumented, even deported for accessing NHS care, it means delaying accessing care, and often delaying too long, as in the tragic case of Dalton Messam who died as a consequence.

The Act states that doctors should be responsible for making decisions about eligibility. The Act even asks clinicians to, quote “bear in mind individuals’ ability to pay” when considering a management plan. This fundamentally undermines the founding principles of the NHS to provide universal healthcare that is free at the point of access.

A commonly applied argument against this case is that of preventing health tourism, which costs, according to Government estimates that have been strongly criticised by The King’s Fund, anything from £70 million to £2 billion. We argue that these figures fail to recognise the net gains that immigrants living and working in the UK provide to our country, especially when one considers the number of NHS workers who were born and trained abroad. In any case, migrants are not the largest drain on NHS resources, compared to PFI debts and competition between NHS and private providers.

DocsnotCops is a coalition of concerned medical professionals, journalists and laypeople. We seek to raise awareness of this damaging Act and ultimately to repeal it. The BMA is holding a conference in Belfast on 19-23 June. We are appealing for them to promote the value that migrant workers bring to the NHS and stop forcing healthcare workers to act as border guards. The full text of the motion is reproduced below. The motion is currently on the secondary list, so there is a chance it may not be heard. Please add your support to raise awareness of this important issue and put pressure on the BMA to debate it!

We have to fight for civilized principles, to defend our NHS, and that’s why we have to defend migrants, and everyone’s access to free care at the point of need.


NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!

Past Docs Not Cops Events

The Immigration Act came into force on the 6th of April 2016. The UK government introduced an immigration health surcharge and threats of fines for trusts that do not comply with charges. Click here to find out more.

  • On the 22nd of April 2016 at University College Hospital we staged some theatrical protest. We challenged the idea of doctors as border guards to show just how damaging charging some people for care will be.

Docs Not Cops in theatrical protest

  • Coverage of our event on 15th April.
  • DocsNotCops marches against racism with 15,000
  • DocsNotCops teams up with 999callfortheNHS to oppose doctors acting as border guards
  • DocsNotCops hosts a film screening and talk to explore the real costs of pregnancy for vulnerable migrants who are forced to pay. Keep our babies free at the point of delivery!
Docs Not Cops at the International Students Demonstration - person holding a sign that says 'Migrants already contribute'
Docs Not Cops at the International Students Demonstration
  • DocsNotCops at the NHS Annual General Meeting: