Pregnant women to be targeted under draconian plans to deny medical care to asylum seekers?

// 14 October 2008

The government have relented, abandoning plans to “crack down” on asylum seekers being able to use GPs, the Guardian reports.

Plans were afoot to bar the door to GP surgeries to asylum seekers who’s claims have been rejected, but are appealling or staying in the country as even the Home Office conceeds it is too dangerous to deport them. Many doctors said they would continue to treat people anyway. As Fighting Monsters says:

Good for the doctors who are put into an exceptionally difficult situation by a government that passes out policy documents seemingly on the basis of populist headlines in the ‘Daily Mail‘.

The proposal was brought up in the first place because the Home Office believed people were coming to this country, making their way through the asylum system, with all the fun of detention centres and so forth, for a bit of “health tourism”. The government has now admitted there’s no actual evidence this happens, but in fact:

‘People in that category are often the most vulnerable, they may have communicable diseases, and therefore the view of ministers is that they shouldn’t be denied primary care.’

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there:

Officials are discussing alternative measures, which could involve targeting those with pre-existing chronic conditions or pregnant women hoping to have a baby on the NHS

So, hang on a minute – now the plan is to just deny access to GPs to pregnant women and people with chronic conditions?!

Comments From You

Leigh Woosey // Posted 14 October 2008 at 12:36 pm

And today Leigh is…

Ashamed of his country! Whoo!

Cara // Posted 14 October 2008 at 3:52 pm

Oh ffs.

Health tourism…yeah, OK…sure, people are going to come here, leave their country, family and friends, live on vouchers, for the wonderful NHS?


The whole asylum limbo thing is evil. I mean the Home Office should either send them back if it is convinced they’re fraudulent, or if not, they should be allowed to remain and be treated with the basic dignity human beings deserve.

Something is wrong where they are denying claims, yet at the same time admitting the country is too dangerous to send them back to!

What is someone with a “chronic” health condition going to do? Or a pregnant woman? It’s not like all pregnancies are trouble free! They could easily end up in A&E, does that save taxpayers’ money? No. (Not that it’s about that…)

Even seemingly reasonable people seem convinced we are being overrun by asylum seekers and immigrants… In reality, the number of asylum seekers is a tiny proportion of the population.

Sabre // Posted 14 October 2008 at 4:46 pm

Err, have the government forgotten about that teensy little thing called HUMAN RIGHTS?!

Good on those doctors for remembering why they became doctors in the first place – to help and treat people no matter what their circumstances.

This made me angry. Oi ministers, asylum seekers are people too!

Aimee // Posted 14 October 2008 at 8:23 pm

AGHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! These racist and ridiculous attitdues towards asylum seekers drive me MAD! What kind of plan is that? ‘Ooh, we don’t want poor, desperate people polluting our wealthy, civilised neighbourhoods. I know! Let’s make their lives just a little bit worse so we won’t have to deal with them! Hooray!’…. I, like Leigh, am ashamed.

Sarah // Posted 15 October 2008 at 1:00 pm

Cara makes a good point, that if health problems, including pregnancy-related complications, are left untreated, they often result in life-threatening emergency situations, which hospitals can hardly refuse to treat. But it would have been so much better for everyone involved if there had been early or preventative treatment – including being cheaper for the taxpayer in most situations. And certainly no one benefits from people with infectious diseases walking around untreated! I also can’t see how you could justify singling out pregnant women to be refused healthcare.

And when I think of the many things our taxes are used to pay for, surely helping women to have a safe pregnancy and birth is one of the better causes?

Shea // Posted 15 October 2008 at 4:28 pm

This country becomes more like a police state every day. It abhorrent. So we can spend £37bn to bail out the fat cats who threw away our economic prosperity and put millions in the sh*t, but help out the poorest most vulnerable women with basic maternity care? No, that’s costing us too much apparently. (I also want to point this out to all the MPs tabling amendments restricting the access to abortion– life’s not so sacred in this instance huh?). I despair of this country, I really do.

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