Socialist Worker

Tories ditch plan to spy on ill migrants

Issue No. 2630

A protest outside a Barts Health trust hospital against immigration checks

A protest outside a Barts Health trust hospital against immigration checks (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Tories have been forced to formally dump a scheme that saw NHS data used to target migrants. The decision follows campaigning and a legal challenge by the Migrants Rights Network to the data-sharing scheme.

The memorandum of understanding was agreed by the Home Office and NHS Digital in November 2016.

Immigration officers could access patients’ “demographic data”—name, date of birth, address—to track down migrants. This could frighten ill migrants off from seeking the healthcare they need.

And it’s part of reinforcing the racist lie that migrants drain the NHS of resources—when in fact the NHS couldn’t function without migrants.

The Tories were forced to limit the use of the scheme in May, but the Home Office has been finding ways around it.

Socialist Worker revealed in August that Barts Health NHS Trust in east London was making 100 enquiries a week to the Home Office about patients.

This was part of the process of checking if migrants from outside the European Union were eligible for free healthcare.

It involved sending patient demographic information to immigration officials.

A campaign forced the trust to back down partially over checking patients’ statuses.


Refugees suffer at border

Refugees in Dunkirk

Refugees in Dunkirk (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Right wingers were outraged to hear claims this week that the British border is “not secured by any stretch of the imagination”.

The findings came in a report by David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

Border guards told Bolt that refugees were “exploiting” understaffing to coordinate attempts to get into Britain.

The UK Border Force is still capable of meting out brutal treatment to refugees.

The refugees trapped at Britain’s border in northern France are fleeing poverty, environmental catastrophe and the West’s wars in the Middle East.

The only solution is to open the border and let them in.


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