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LETTERS—Health charges for migrants are racist—scrap all of them

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Issue 2644
Fight the attacks on migrants  (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The treatment of Boysie Folkes shows that the whole system of charging migrants for healthcare and checking people’s immigration status is wrong.

Boysie, who holds a British passport, was one of the Windrush Generation of migrants who came to Britain in the 1950s.

Yet his treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham was delayed after he was refused free NHS care.

He had retired to Jamaica but fell ill on a trip back to Britain—so had allegedly lost his rights after staying outside the country.

He did in fact have the right papers. But whether someone is documented or undocumented, if they’re ill they should get care.

It’s true that some trusts are “overinterpreting” the rules or interpreting them in their own way.

But the problem isn’t just the interpretation of rules. There shouldn’t be these rules in the first place and everyone should have free access to health care.

It is increasingly making it difficult for migrants to get the correct health care or benefits or use public services.

The government is scapegoating migrants for problems caused by cuts and austerity.

There can be no economic justification for the NHS migrant charges—so it must be something else. They collect peanuts and I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost more collecting fines.

But once the government has systems in place to charge people, they can restrict healthcare for others and undermine the NHS.

At Barts hospital trust in East London we forced them into a partial climbdown over aspects of the checks and reporting.

But the trust continued with a government pilot of checking everyone’s ID in maternity and dialysis after it had ended.

It is still charging and making inquiries to the Home Office. So we have organised another protest on 22 March outside the Royal London.

Jackie Applebee

East London

Let’s stop the great gas rip off

There is widespread concern about rising energy prices, particularly for low paid workers,

pensioners and others who are on fixed incomes.

Rising energy prices are a scam generated by the government, media and the energy industry.

Although energy suppliers have increased their prices, the price of natural gas fell by a whopping 30 percent during the last three months of 2018.

This saving has not been passed on to customers.

My own provider has increased the maximum price tariff by 25 percent. That means it had a gross profit margin of 53 percent.

And the energy companies are trying another scam with the “standing charge” to your bill.

Imagine if an attendant at a petrol station said they were charging you an additional £15.00 on top of the cost of the fuel.

And when you ask why that was, they said it was to pay for “pipes and wires” at the refinery.

You would soon tell them where to go wouldn’t you?

But this is exactly what energy companies are doing with the standing charge.

It doesn’t matter if you switch to a rival company anymore. Surprise, surprise, they have all increased their prices to within £20 of each other.

If that’s not a cartel, I do not know what is.

Mark Cooper

Address provided

Attack the Tories and cuts, not the homeless

I was horrified to see footage of railway staff pouring dirty water on a homeless man in an attempt to make him move away from a station.

This took place outside Sutton station in south London. Sections of the press then tried to deflect from the issue by “revealing” the man was convicted of manslaughter 20 years ago.

I work with homeless people. There are four main groups.

There are people whose lives have been torn apart by losing their job, illness or relationship breakdown and find themselves in a downward spiral from respectability to street life.

There are people with addiction issues. There are people with mental distress.

There are ex-soldiers. All homeless people deserve a secure place to live.

But Tory cuts have been a disaster. The number of rough sleepers in England has risen by 165 percent since 2010.

Hannah M

East London

System behind growing mental distress

I’ve been a local government housing worker for nearly 30 years, dealing with benefits, homelessness and now private sector housing.

It seems fairly clear that there’s been a significant increase in vulnerable people with mental distress.

And I have come to the same conclusion as Iain Ferguson, who wrote Politics of the Mind—Marxism and Mental Distress.

We need to be able to cope with not only the stresses in our own lives,

but with the horrors of war, inequality, exploitation, pollution and oppression in the world. From my experience, it is true that an understanding of the origin of one’s mental distress can be helpful in coping.

Medication is a relief at times when you feel it’s really necessary.

But “resilience” is a great skill to have in order to be strong enough to fight for a better future.

Being part of a movement which is trying to promote equality helps.

John Kipling


How can left oppose EU?

I write this as someone who is a left wing socialist.

How can a socialist newspaper write that Jeremy Corbyn is wrong to back a second referendum on Brexit (Socialist Worker, 27 February)?

Leaving the European Union without any deal would cause thousands of job losses.

Surely we as socialists have to protect the mass population from this catastrophic impact.

James Oldfield-Williams

On Facebook

  • The vast majority of true socialists are against the European Union due to its imperialism, slow erosion of workers’ rights and entrenchment of capitalism.

But I think that’s an ideological standpoint, not a practical one.

They’re not looking at the destruction of the economy.

Frank Dorrian

On Facebook

You cannot reform EU

I’m yet to meet a socialist who supports the European Union (EU).

And that’s probably because the EU by its very nature makes socialism pretty much impossible for members.

Alan Yule

On Facebook

It’s a pipedream to think that the European Union can be reformed.

All power lies in the unelected European Commission and the Council of Ministers, the parliament is toothless.

We have to fight against a Tory Brexit just as we have to fight all Tory policies.

The racist, austerity-driven bosses’ club is no solution. The austerity dealt to Greece is evidence.

Tony Tingle

On Facebook

Independent of principle?

What exactly is The Independent Group in parliament independent of?

Principle, ideology, intellect, reason? The list is inexhaustible.

John Curtis


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