Are sick migrants avoiding NHS doctors over deportation fears?


The NHS has approve of to look into concerns about doctors having to pass prestiges and addresses of suspected illegal immigrants to the Home Office.

It has launched a consultation on the principles after pressure from MPs but will not immediately ban it as some want.

Healthfulness bosses have been accused of ignoring evidence migrants are being hindered from seeking medical help for fear of deportation.

England’s pure health watchdog said it was a “serious risk” to public health.

Doctors and invalid groups warned it was damaging trust in the health service and breaching persistent confidentiality, in evidence last month to the Health Select Committee.

‘Bete noire of deportation’

The committee was told one heavily pregnant woman had delayed go out with her GP for months – and some people were choosing to attend accident and danger departments, where they are not requited to give personal details.

The rule is part of Theresa May’s efforts, launched when she was Home Secretary, to establish f get on it more difficult for illegal migrants to set up home in the UK.

The Home Office endure year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NHS Digital to make doctors proffer over non-clinical details of patients, including their last conscious address, date of birth and NHS registration details to immigration officials.

Some 8,000 people bring into the world reportedly had their details passed to immigration officials in this way.

The sway argues the data is non-clinical and at the lower end of confidentiality.

But Sarah Wollaston, who easy chairs the health committee, wrote to NHS Digital last month to say the MoU had been bring aboard assigned without proper consultation and should be halted immediately for a review of confidentiality procedures.

The Tory MP narrated NHS Digital chief executive Sarah Wilkinson: “We now expect NHS Digital to consider this opportunity to demonstrate that it takes its duties in respect of confidentiality unquestioningly by listening to the concerns raised about the MoU and taking action accordingly.

“If it does not, we will envision to hold a further evidence session, where you will be required to offer a very much more convincing case for the continued operation of this MoU than has been presented so far.”

NHS Digital is coerced by law to co-operate with the Home Office but it retains the right under the MoU to be after more information about requests for data and turn them down if “not make good that request is in the public interest”.

Dr Wollaston said in her letter: “We do not in that NHS Digital has fully considered and appropriately taken account of the acknowledged interest in maintaining a confidential medical service.”

Launching the consultation, the Branch of Health said there was evidence that “fear of deportation is a fence to seeking care”.

But it added: “There is currently however much scanty evidence about the impact of data-sharing arrangements and specific knowledge of those displays on deterring undocumented immigrants from seeking healthcare and treatment.”

As a effect, it has asked Public Health England to “undertake a review within two years of the affect on public health and health-seeking behaviour arising from the disclosure of deprecating data in relation to the investigation of criminal offences, including immigration harms”.

Submissions to the review should be sent by 30 March.

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