Charging vulnerable migrants for health care
New regulations in England and Wales may make doctors unable to put patients' welfare first. Tom Yates and colleagues argue against the government's proposals
"H is Rwandan, and when he came to the Refugee Council was living on the street and destitute. He had bowel cancer and a colostomy bag from a previous operation. Not only had the trust refused to provide care without advance payment, his local general practitioner was refusing to register him."1
The UK health minister Alan Johnson recently highlighted the excessive burden of disease experienced by vulnerable groups in the country: “Inequalities in healthcare mirror wider injustices in society … we could and should be doing much more … to tackle them.”2 These sentiments are welcome, but an imminent government review raises questions. It is expected to propose the restriction of access to primary care for vulnerable migrant communities in England and Wales.
The people concerned are victims of trafficking, undocumented migrants, and failed asylum seekers who are either awaiting deportation or are unable to safely travel home, be it