Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Police State

The NHS has agreed to look into concerns about doctors having to pass names and addresses of suspected illegal immigrants to the Home Office. The Home Office last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NHS Digital to make doctors hand over non-clinical details of patients, including their last known address, date of birth and NHS registration details to immigration officials. NHS Digital is required by law to co-operate with the Home Office but it retains the right under the MoU to seek more information about requests for data and turn them down if "not satisfied that request is in the public interest". Some 8,000 people have reportedly had their details passed to immigration officials in this way.

Health bosses have been accused of ignoring evidence migrants are being deterred from seeking medical help for fear of deportation. England's main health watchdog said it was a "serious risk" to public health. Doctors and patient groups warned it was damaging trust in the health service and breaching patient confidentiality, in evidence last month to the Health Select Committee.  Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the health committee, wrote to NHS Digital last month to say the MoU had been signed without proper consultation and should be halted immediately for a review of confidentiality procedures.Some people were choosing to attend accident and emergency departments, where they are not required to give personal details.  The Department of Health said there was evidence that "fear of deportation is a barrier to seeking care".

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