WHILE scientists and politicians weigh up the reasons why Black and Ethnic Minority communities are suffering disproportionately high infection and death rates from Coronavirus, the healthworkers’ campaign Medact has revealed that some black and/or migrant patients are being questioned over their right to access treatment for the virus.
Medact has been working with the group Migrants Organise: together they have produced a report called Patients Not Passports: Migrants’ Access to Healthcare During Coronavirus. This brings together research showing that government policy is leading to migrants being denied healthcare – or deterring them from asking for it.
Successive UK governments have operated a “hostile environment” towards migrants, in an attempt to win over voters by scapegoating migrants – and, by association, all black and ethnic minority communities – for all society’s wrongs. As a result, those trying to use public services are increasing questioned about their right to do so.
The Coronavirus has proved the benefits of a public health service for all, but the effects of the “hostile environment” policies are restricting healthcare – leading to individuals suffering but also making life more dangerous for everyone.
The new report groups the problems into three areas.
•Migrants are reluctant to ask for healthcare because they fear they will be questioned and may be at risk of harassment or even deportation – and may be asked to pay very high charges.
•Although the Government has said that treatment for Coronavirus is exempt from charges and from checks on immigration status, this has not always filtered down to the front line, where health administrators are continuing to carry out checks and raise charges.
•Problems with the system which make accessing healthcare harder for migrant communities are even greater during the current crisis, when there is reduced scope to offer translation and services are being moved to the phone or online.
The new Report was featured on Channel 4 News, which reported the case of a black man who was hassled by administrators to produce evidence that he was entitled to use the NHS – while he was in an induced coma as part of being treated for COVID-19.
●Read the full report here:
●Medact is committed to campaigning with others to end the Hostile Environment and for free healthcare for all. For more information about Medact, go to: