Socialist Worker

NHS charges delay vital treatments

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2727

Migrants are having to wait weeks for treatment because of racist Tory immigration rules

Migrants are having to wait weeks for treatment because of racist Tory immigration rules (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Migrants denied NHS services under racist immigration rules had to wait an average of 37 weeks for treatment, according to a damning new report.

Almost 60 percent of those surveyed by the Doctors of the World charity needed an “urgent” or “immediately necessary” NHS service.

One undocumented migrant in the report, Saloum, fled political persecution in Gambia in West Africa where he had campaigned against female genital mutilation.

He came to Derby ten years ago and worked odd jobs.

One day in December 2018 during a period of homelessness, Saloum fell unconscious on the street.

He woke up a few days later lying in the Royal Derby Hospital, where he was diagnosed with two brain tumours and lung cancer and given days to live.

Urgent

Saloum said that after a few days of treatment, “Somebody came and told me they couldn’t care for me anymore because of my status.

“They told me I’d have to pay, and it would be very expensive.”

Migrants from outside the European Union have to pay a health surcharge—on top of visa costs—which rose to £624 this month.

It’s even worse for refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.

They have to pay 150 percent of the NHS tariff, the prices attached to different health services.

Those who cannot pay are denied treatment unless it is considered “urgent or immediately necessary”.

Yet some hospitals have denied care to people nonetheless.

Caseworkers from Doctors of the World helped Saloum register with a GP and persuaded the NHS to give him the treatment he was entitled to.

But health bosses put constant pressure on Sal to pay for treatment and withheld care because of outstanding charges until his death.

For the full report go to bit.ly/docsworld1020

Defending migrants’ rights

Anti-racists protested against plans for a new immigration enforcement centre in Newham, east London, last Friday.

Around 45 supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) protested outside Warehouse K, near the Excel Centre.

A statement from Labour MP Lyn Brown said, “It’s good to know that opposition to the hostile environment, and the injustice it has created in our communities, remains strong in Newham.“We all know the disgraceful way the Windrush Generation has been treated for decades and that this country’s immigration system is neither fair nor compassionate.”

Meanwhile, around 20 SUTR supporters rallied at very short notice outside the Penally refugee camp in Tenby, west Wales, last Saturday.

SUTR West Wales reported, “When we arrived, ten or so anti-refugee racists had occupied the area around the gates and were verbally abusing the men in the camp and not allowing them to leave

“We occupied the area in front of the gates much to the joy of the camp residents. Some very useful conversations were had with the guys in the camp about how we could help with practical issues, safety and facilitating legal support.”


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