Statement from Dr Clive Peedell
News just released (HSJ ‘Immigration officers at London trust for patient charging pilot’ 15.07.2015) that the Home Office has sent immigration officers into St George’s NHS Trust in London to ‘help administrative staff identify foreign patients who could be charged for treatment’ is both a false economy and a dangerous attack on the safety of patients and the public.
Dr Clive Peedell of the National Health Action Party says this has alarming implications for healthcare.
“Previous research has shown that the consequences of such actions are predictable. In March this year the charity Doctors of the World reported pregnant migrant women failing to access care for fear of excessive charges or immigration checks and of large sums being billed even after stillbirths.
There are also realistic fears that immigrants with infectious or contagious diseases may be more likely to spread them than seek help. This is a shameful way to treat the individual and a foolish policy for society.
In financial terms, on figures from 2012, £33 million was spent on ‘health tourists’ and £21 million was recovered from them. The shortfall is a tiny drop in the NHS’ annual budget. Compared with £3 billion on the destructive 're-organisation' of the NHS, at least £4.5 billion spent each year on management consultants, commissioners and lawyers to manage the unnecessary ‘marketplace in NHS healthcare’ and the estimated £2 billion on wasteful PFI schemes it is dwarfed into insignificance.
The government’s immigration policies should not be carried out in hospitals. We are doctors, not immigration officers or the police.”