The campaign to reverse reactionary legislation stemming from Theresa May’s “hostile environment” to migrants has now gathered the support of almost all the professional bodies representing doctors.
In March the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, covering all 24 medical royal colleges adopted a powerful statement rejecting the case for the charges and calling for the suspension of the regulations.
Now the BMA’s 2019 Annual Representatives’ Meeting has carried a motion (below) from Tower Hamlets which goes further and calls for the regulations and all charges to be scrapped.
The campaign has been led by Docs Not Cops and Patients Not Passports, and supported by Medact. Health Campaigns Together and Keep Our NHS Public have also supported vigorous protests in Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge and London.
The case has been forcefully made to refute cynical and hugely exaggerated claims by government and the right wing press that the charges are simply targeting “health tourists”, and proving that the legislation is inherently racist, discriminatory, and contrary to NHS principles.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has twice refused a call from the Commons Health and Social Care Committee to explain why the Department has refused to publish the outcome of its review of the charges, which apparently concluded that there was no significant evidence of overseas visitors being deterred from treatment or that the charges had had an impact on public health. On June 25 Hancock sent health minister Stephen Hammond in his place, who revealed under questioning that the review had not been on the impact of the charges since 2017, but on the more recent application of an amendment.
Hammond also admitted there had been no public consultation on the amendment, even though it transformed the “guidance” on checking eligibility for free treatment into a legal requirement to raise up-front charges
The “review,” admitted Hammond, was carried out just six weeks after the change. Predictably (and conveniently for ministers facing questions in the house) it found little evidence of its impact. It is so flawed they have been determined to keep it from publication and even withhold it from the Committee.
Evidence continues to emerge of people being deterred from seeking treatment and inappropriately denied access to care.