The Hostile Environment is incompatible with public health: PI joins the Vaccine For All campaign
PI joins more than 140 UK migrants’ rights charities, faith groups, local authorities, health institutions and trade unions in a call to the Department of Health calling for an end to Hostile Environment immigration policies in the NHS so that everyone can access the vaccine without fear.
- Earlier this week, the UK Government announced that no immigration status checks will be carried out for migrants trying to register with their GP and get vaccinated.
- Over the years, the hostile environment policies and data-sharing arrangements have posed a real threat to the well-being of people with uncertain immigration status and eroded trust of these communities.
Earlier this week, the UK Government announced that no immigration status checks will be carried out for migrants trying to register with their GP and get vaccinated. But temporary offers of safety are not enough to undo the decades of harm caused by policies that have embedded immigration controls into public services.
Years of charging migrants for healthcare and sharing patient data with the Home Office has eroded trust between migrant communities and the NHS. As a result, they might not seek proper care for fear of being reported to the Home Office, or if their inability to work means they fear being charged for any access. Without trust, public health loses out.
This is why PI has joined more than 140 migrants’ rights charities, faith groups, local authorities, health institutions and trade unions in a call to the Department of Health calling for an end to Hostile Environment immigration policies in the NHS so that everyone can access the vaccine without fear. The call was initiated by the Patients Not Passports network, and supported by Medact, Migrants Organise, Doctors of the World, and Docs Not Cops
We believe the Hostile Environment is incompatible with public health. For everyone to access the Covid-19 vaccine safely, these measures must end.
In order to address the coronavirus pandemic and strengthen public health efforts, the coronavirus vaccine must be safely accessible to everyone, regardless of immigration status, ID or proof of address.
The Government has stated that everyone is able to access the coronavirus vaccine, but in practice, people are being asked for ID, are unable to register with a GP, and are afraid to access services because of longstanding and entrenched barriers to healthcare.
Without further action, the pandemic will continue to have a disproportionate impact on all marginalised groups, including migrant communities, people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, and BME communities.
We therefore call on the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure the vaccine programme works for everyone, and seeks to address the specific barriers faced by these communities in line with calls from the JCVI.
The Department of Health and Social Care must:
- Guarantee a firewall that prevents any patient information gathered by the NHS or Test and Trace being used for the purposes of immigration enforcement.
- End all Hostile Environment measures in the NHS, including charging for migrants, to combat the fear and mistrust these policies have created.
- Provide specific support to all GP surgeries to register everyone, including undocumented and underdocumented migrants and those without secure accommodation, and ensure that all other routes to vaccination are accessible to everyone.
- Fund a public information campaign to ensure that communities impacted by the Hostile Environment are aware of their right to access the vaccine and the steps taken above.