Did you know the Home Office is accessing NHS patients’ personal information, such as their addresses, to track down undocumented migrants? This is making people in urgent need, such as pregnant women and cancer sufferers, too scared to see a doctor.
A special arrangement – known as a Memorandum of Understanding – is now in place between the Home Office and NHS Digital. It allows enforcement officers to request patient registration data, including addresses.
We are extremely concerned about this arrangement and the implications for vulnerable migrants, including people seeking asylum. We are calling on you to help stop the data-sharing by backing the new #StopSharing campaign led by Doctors of the World, National Aids Trust and Liberty.
Take Action Today!
1. Sign this petition and tell them to #stopsharing! https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/stopsharingNHSinfo
2. Contribute to the viral campaign. Download the social media pack with suggested Tweets, Facebook posts and graphics to spread the #stopsharing message far and wide.
3. Are you a healthcare professional or do you work with primary care providers? You can encourage GP practices to use the “Safe Surgeries” toolkit. The “Safe Surgeries” toolkit for healthcare professionals gives GP practices concrete ways to defy the data-sharing deal by keeping their patients’ addresses off NHS records, including using the GP practice address as c/o address. All suggestions are in line with NHS guidelines. https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/SafeSurgeries-toolkit
For full campaign details, see: https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/news/medics-mobilise-against-nhs-patient-data-sharing
Why is this important?
As part of the Government’s wider strategy to create a “hostile environment” for irregular migrants in Britain, the NHS has become the latest in a growing list of public and civic institutions to be charged with responsibility for identifying those without leave to remain in the UK.
Since January 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding has been in place between the Home Office and NHS Digital. It, for the first time, allows the Home Office to have access to patient registration data, meaning enforcement officers can ask NHS Digital to share the full name, date of birth, gender, last known address and date of NHS registration of patients.
Patient confidentiality is essential for NHS staff to be able to do their job – and yet they have not been consulted about this deal. Concerns raised by medical organisations have been ignored and the agreement was made in secret.
The deal also makes vulnerable patients scared of accessing healthcare. We already know that asylum seekers and refugees experience multiple barriers to getting the healthcare they need, from confusion over entitlements to lack of interpreters and problems with registration. The new data-sharing arrangement can only worsen these health inequalities. Moreover, refused asylum seekers – who are chargeable for certain health services, despite often being destitute and having no means of paying or hope of getting healthcare elsewhere while they remain in limbo in the UK – will now have more reason to fear contact with the NHS.
Want to find out more?
Get in touch with your regional Asylum Matters campaign project manager:
Yorkshire and Humber | email@example.com | 07557 982 498
Info from Copyright © 2017 Regional Asylum Activism,