Thus, recently, the British Medical Association (BMA) has issued clear instructions to the medical staff not to engage in any monitoring task of their patients’ immigration status.
The response comes as there is a shift towards asking health care providers to determine patients’ immigration status at the primary care level, not just at the secondary care level as it currently the case.
Amanda Owen, from Tower Hamlets in east London, proposed the motion. “Doctors are trained to treat, not police,” she said.
The motion was approved at the BMA's annual representative meeting on June 24, by an overwhelming majority of delegates, stating, "NHS staff do not have any role in policing immigration". This motion has also called on the BMA to "provide unequivocal support for any doctor who is victimized for refusing to partake in monitoring of immigration status."
Read More : http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h3468
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UK doctors should refuse to check the immigration status of patients who come to them seeking healthcare, the BMA has said.
Delegates at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Liverpool passed a motion on Wednesday 24 June stating, “NHS staff do not have any role in policing immigration.”
The motion, passed by an overwhelming majority of delegates, called on the BMA to “issue clear instructions that the role of the doctor is to provide medical care when it is needed and that doctors should not involve themselves in any monitoring of immigration status.” It also asked the BMA to “provide unequivocal support for any doctor who is victimised for refusing to partake in monitoring of immigration status.”
Amanda Owen, from Tower Hamlets in east London, proposed the motion. “Doctors are trained to treat, not police,” she said. “Our duty is to treat. We are not agents of the state.” She said that a doctor’s job was to provide high quality healthcare to people in need. “Simply practising our profession, upholding our ethics, and being humanitarian could expose us to victimisation comparable to that experienced by whistleblowers,” she warned.
Elliott Singer, a GP in London, said that “no doctors should be put in this position to act as immigration officers.” He cited the Declaration of Geneva’s statement that doctors would not permit consideration of nationality to intervene between their duty and their patient. “Shall we ask immigration officers to manage visitors’ health needs? Of course not,” he said. “So why would we ask doctors to take on what should be the duty of the immigration officers and the Home Office, who are trained and paid to do these things?”
Ruth Taylor, also a GP in London, said that it was not the role of doctors to act as a border force policing the immigration status of patients. “It’s not our job to decide whether patients are economic migrants, trafficked men or women, refugees, or government approved or unapproved, before providing care,” she said.
She added, “The anti-immigrant rhetoric of the government and media must not be allowed to taint the care of our patients, wherever they come from and whatever their status. We must not be forced to impede equality of access. We must not be forced to discriminate. If, in the course of providing care for such patients, doctors find that they are sanctioned for so doing, we ask that the BMA ensure their full defence and support.”
Terry John, chairman of the BMA’s international committee, said, “It’s useful to know that this motion actually concurs with BMA policy. Guidance is available on the BMA website which outlines doctors’ responsibilities in treating and registering overseas patients.”