Are sick migrants avoiding NHS doctors over deportation fears?

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Are sick migrants avoiding NHS doctors over deportation fears?
The Home Office last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NHS Digital to make doctors hand over non-clinical details of patients, including their last known address, date of birth
and NHS registration details to immigration officials.
NHS Digital is required by law to co-operate with the Home Office
but it retains the right under the MoU to seek more information about requests for data and turn them down if “not satisfied that request is in the public interest”.
The Tory MP told NHS Digital chief executive Sarah Wilkinson: “We now expect NHS Digital to take this opportunity to demonstrate
that it takes its duties in respect of confidentiality seriously by listening to the concerns raised about the MoU and taking action accordingly.
As a result, it has asked Public Health England to “undertake a review within two years of the impact on public health
and health-seeking behaviour arising from the disclosure of personal data in relation to the investigation of criminal offences, including immigration offences”.
Dr Wollaston said in her letter: “We do not believe
that NHS Digital has fully considered and appropriately taken account of the public interest in maintaining a confidential medical service.”
But Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the health committee, wrote to NHS Digital last month to say the MoU had been signed without proper consultation
and should be halted immediately for a review of confidentiality procedures.
Launching the consultation, the Department of Health said there was evidence that “fear of deportation is a barrier to seeking care”.


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