Some patients are being forced to show their passports before receiving NHS treatment—and the attack could spread to other areas.
Chris Wormald, the Department of Health’s top civil servant, said, “Are we looking at whether trusts should proactively ask people to prove their identity?
“Yes we are looking at that.”
He praised health bosses at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust who are already implementing the racist rules. Patients are asked to provide two forms of ID when seeking non-emergency care.
Jo Rust is the Unison union regional organiser for health in Peterborough. She told Socialist Worker, “I’m disgusted that passport checks are being carried out in our area. Peterborough is a diverse area and has a large migrant population.
“The Tories aren’t funding the NHS. They want to divert attention towards migrants and divide our communities.”
The attack is going on under Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Wormald suggested that the Tories could specifically just target areas with migrant populations or “apply it to the whole country”.
All “ordinary residents”—people who have an indefinite leave to remain in Britain—have a right to free healthcare.
That includes EU citizens living in Britain.
Migrants from outside the EU have no right to free healthcare and since April they have had to pay a “migrant surcharge”.
This is an attack on the principle of free treatment—and a bridgehead to restricting access for everyone.
The Tories complain about “health tourists”. Yet the official annual estimate for “health tourists” is between 5,000 and 20,000 people.
The NHS treats a million people every 36 hours.
The passport plan is part of the Tories’ racist assault on migrants.
Some 55,000 of the NHS’s 1.2 million workforce are from other EU countries. The proportion is higher for workers from outside the EU.
Whenever people are pushed away from treatment it makes public health worse for all.
And it will put patients’ lives at risk.
Socialist Worker believes that everyone has a right to free health care—wherever they are from.
The unions must resist this attack and support workers who refuse to implement it.