Practitioners' First Choice
Practitioners' First Choice

Should immigrants have access to the NHS if they don’t have “papers”?


No. My argument is simple…

If you can’t adequately take care of your own citizens, why extend service eligibility to an additional service population? I’m on record for stating how abominable I think NHS health care is. Unless you’re dying good luck getting in. Across the country, (one in 15 people) wait more than a month to see their GP. After that, GP referrals to consultant-led outpatient services that have been unsuccessful because there are no slots available jumped from 238,859 in February 2020 to a staggering 401,115 in November 2021 (an 87% increase). This doesn’t represent “universal health care access” to me. The issues with the NHS are utterly structural: the number of people reliant upon the service as well as a single payer system where the budgets don’t come close to the operational demand. Including undocumented individuals who pay no tax or NHS surcharge into the health system adds more bodies into an already crumbling system.

Dr. Uche:

So, we’re talking about undocumented immigrants here…I mean, we wouldn’t have very universal healthcare if we started excluding on that criteria.

Not only should undocumented immigrants continue to be able to access the NHS but they should get it for free at the ‘point of service’; as long as everyone else is. Even as things currently stand, undocumented immigrants are charged for accessing certain aspects of the NHS and it leads to delays or absence of care (for example maternity care). Furthermore, the sad reality is that hospital staff are now having to serve as a data collection arm for the immigration office (not what we signed up for) and that comes with its own bloody issues, such as racial profiling (where we already see that the charges discriminate disproportionately against BAME immigrants). Look, if you’re gonna plant your flag on the universal access hill, then it seems a little hypocritical to me to start fraternising healthcare policy and immigration policy. Otherwise, do as the Americans do, not going to get federal support for healthcare if you’re undocumented…but they’re not exactly claiming to be the beacon of universal health care either.

*Disclaimer: All opinions expressed on this platform are those of the individuals and not representative of any particular institution. This is not to be taken as medical advice.


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