Health Poverty Action’s response to the announcement that NHS hospitals will have a duty to check eligibility and charge non eligible patients upfront for non-urgent care.
We all need to access healthcare when we are sick. Care based on need, not ability to pay is the principle on which the NHS was founded. Requiring hospitals to check people’s eligibility, or pay upfront for care, forces health workers to act as border guards and is a further attack on our NHS.
Migrants are at the heart of our health system, not a threat to it. Over 36% of Doctors in the UK received their primary training in other countries. In 2015, 40% of new nurse and midwife registrations were from migrants. Migrant health workers make enormous contributions to the NHS through their expertise and care, and also in the money they save the UK in training costs.
By focusing its energy on enforcing charges for certain groups of migrants, the Department of Health is diverting attention away from the real threats to the NHS.
Martin Drewry, Director of Health Poverty Action said:
“Imagine being denied healthcare because of your passport. Our NHS was built on the principle of health for all. Today’s announcement is a further attack on that. Migrants are not the reason the NHS is in crisis, yet as usual they are being used as a convenient scapegoat. To insist people must prove their eligibility or pay upfront before they can access care is unacceptable.”
In gratitude for the contribution of migrant health workers and in solidarity with migrants throughout the UK, Health Poverty Action supports 1 Day Without Us – a National Day of Action on 20th February to celebrate the contributions of migrants to the UK.