Sunday, October 22, 2017

What's in a name?

Emma Szewczak-Harris, received a letter from Cambridge University Hospitals foundation trust after attending an appointment at Addenbrooke's Hospital an ordered to prove she is from the UK in order to receive free NHS treatment for her pregnancy.

 Ms Szewczak-Harris, who was born and raised in the UK, uses her Polish husband's surname alongside her maiden name, explained "It seems like someone saw my name and it was flagged up."

It comes some months after charity Doctors of the World warned vulnerable pregnant women were putting themselves at risk because they were “too frightened” to seek NHS care due to their immigration status. NHS guidelines state that “no woman must ever be denied, or have delayed, maternity services due to charging issues”. But hundreds of asylum seekers, trafficking victims and undocumented migrants are not seeking antenatal care because they are afraid they will be charged thousands of pounds or reported to the Home Office, according to the charity. 

The Department of Health confirmed non-clinical information was shared between health agencies and the Home Office “to trace immigration offenders”. 

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