NHS: A great healthcare system but how accessible is it to migrants?

Theresa May 2018 UK

Ms. Theresa May, UK’s Prime Minister (9)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr.Ahmed Al-Tameemi is a second-year Iraqi medical student at the University of Central
Lancashire, UK. He is
 affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is one of the leading healthcare systems around the world; However, it has its flaws. Upfront payment for some services and sharing patients’ records with the Home Office (the authority responsible for immigration) are the two main issues within the NHS when it comes to migrants’ access to healthcare. Around 14% of the 2016 UK population was not born in the UK and asylum-seeking peaked its highest since 2004 at 41% in 2016 [1] [4] [5].

Payment for chargeable services can be delayed but cannot be waived leaving migrants with debts they might be unable to pay leading to refusal of their immigration requests. The charging regulations are complex and not easily understood especially to new-comers to the country. Combining that with the fear of being charged even for exempted services represents a major hurdle accessing healthcare services. In addition to vulnerability and marginalisation, undocumented migrants face numerous other barriers to accessing healthcare ranging from poor English, unfamiliarity with the NHS and avoidance of interaction with governmental authorities including healthcare providers [2].

Chargeable services and the data-sharing policy with the Home Office erode the distinction between healthcare services and governmental authorities undermining the ability of healthcare providers to reassure patients that information discussed is confidential and that it is safe to talk openly. About 10% of patients avoided NHS services because of immigration enforcement. This along with other possible factors like poverty, overcrowding, poor housing and nutrition contribute to health deterioration of migrants leading to treatment at later stages which is more expensive, putting a greater burden on the NHS budget. Therefore, preserving confidential medical consultations without data-sharing policies and reducing charges or exempting migrants from paying for certain services, improve their health outcomes [3].

Other challenges include limited access to sexual and mental health services due to the stigma around these areas and the lack of establishing good sexual history including history of sex trafficking and sexual violence. Patients are also less likely to engage with the healthcare system if they have poor English as the NHS needs to provide interpreters who might be from the same local community as the patients’ creating a barrier to open communication with the healthcare provider because of fear of possible judgment or stigma by the interpreters.

To overcome that, inclusion and diversity courses along with health awareness classes including sex education should be introduced in all institutions and schools. These courses raise awareness on personal care, hygiene, prevention measures and what services migrants can access and ways to access them. Such courses should also be delivered to migrants and newcomers along with English language courses easing their integration with their new environment and helping them access services especially healthcare ones without requiring interpreters reducing the financial burden on both the patient and the NHS. These courses would also reduce the effects of stigma and discrimination based on protected characteristics contributing to wider access to healthcare services as it promotes openly sharing information for better-quality care.

References

  1. Home Office. Asylum. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-july-to-september-2016/asylum. Published 2016. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  2. Department of Health. Overseas chargeable patients, NHS debt and immigration rules. 2016. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/730171/Overseas_chargeable_patients__NHS_debt_and_immigration_rules.pdf. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  3. Whelan I. The effect of United Kingdom immigration policies on migrant access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. BMJ. https://srh.bmj.com/content/45/1/74. Published 2018. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  4. Migration Observatory. Migrants in the UK: An Overview – Migration Observatory. Migration Observatory. https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/migrants-in-the-uk-an-overview/ . Published 2019. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  5. Morgan P. Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality – Office for National Statistics. Ons.gov.uk. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/ukpopulationbycountryofbirthandnationality/2016. Published 2017. Accessed March 22, 2019.

About the author

Ahmed Al-Tameemi is a second-year Iraqi medical student at the University of Central
Lancashire, UK. He is involved with the IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations) as a certified international trainer and as the UK National Officer on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS, part of the British Council: Active Citizen program operating in Iraq, Public policy alumni of the US embassy Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), Branch president of Students for Global Health-UK and delivered Training Sessions on Sexual Health and Refugee rights in London, Cardiff, Leeds, and Slovenia.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief urges peaceful, free and fair elections in Cameroon

The race for Driverless vehicles: where is the industry heading?

Cybersecurity: agreement reached on better protection for citizens and companies

Three steps we must take to secure the future of our forests

Eurozone’s bank resolution mechanism takes a blow

3 things you need to know about securing a blockchain

Autonomous vehicles could clog city centres: a lesson from Boston

UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive

Trade surplus up production down in Eurozone

This is what Belgium’s traffic-choked capital is doing about emissions

Is poor generational intelligence holding you back at work?

The EU-US trade agreement, victim of right-wing extremists and security lunatics

UN rights chief ‘alarmed’ by upsurge in attacks against civilians in Syria’s Idlib

Parliament approves €34m in EU aid to Greece, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria

Germany not famous for easy way outs from political stalemates

Everything you need to know about water

New York high school students are getting free water bottles to cut plastic waste

EU tourism industry expects a new record year in 2014

Pakistan: UN Security Council condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ terrorist attacks

EU elections: Can EU citizens’ awareness eradicate fake news more efficiently than Facebook, Twitter and Google?

Brexit update: Will Theresa May’s last-minute desperate efforts procrastinate Brexit?

EU Youth Goals – we are shapers not listeners

Trump’s Syrian hit the softest option vis-a-vis Russia

UN working with both sides, after hidden tunnels confirmed along Lebanon-Israel ‘Blue Line’

8 amazing facts to help you understand China today

South Africa still hasn’t won LGBTQ+ equality. Here are 5 reasons why

UN genocide adviser welcomes historic conviction of former Khmer Rouge leaders

TTIP wins Merkel’s endorsement ahead of 2016 tough deadline

UN rights chief ‘strongly’ condemns ‘shocking’ mass executions in Saudi Arabia

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

These refugee children have danced in the snow for the first time

Sexual abuse of elderly likely to ‘grow dramatically’, UN expert says

The vegan economy is booming – and Big Food wants a slice of it

Evidence shows ‘brutal’ killing of Saudi journalist ‘planned and perpetrated’ by State officials: UN independent expert

‘Great cause of concern’ UN chief tells Security Council, surveying ‘bleak’ state of civilian protection

Youth not prioritised in new Commission

UN cooperation with League of Arab States ‘pivotal’, UN chief tells Security Council

From rescue animals to electric buses, California is introducing bold new rules

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

5 ways to fast-track the transition to a carbon neutral world

The succesful cooperation

Trump wants to implicate China in US attacks against global order

The US is withdrawing from a 144-year-old treaty. Here’s the context

Chart of the day: These are the cities where the World Cup threatens productivity the most

Universal access to energy is a major challenge for the Arab world. Here’s why

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

EU readies for eventual annulment of the Turkish agreement on immigrants-refugees

Brexit is happening now but the UK hasn’t really assessed the impact of a “no-deal” divorce

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

EU free-trade agreements with Canada and US: imagine the fallout if put to national referendums

Global Trade Identity can be the cornerstone of paperless trade

Ditching plastic straws isn’t enough. Here’s how to achieve zero waste.

Norway initiates WTO dispute complaint against US steel, aluminium duties

Poverty and social exclusion skyrocket with austerity

Storms and snow in Lebanon worsen plight for Syrian refugees

JADE visits Lithuanian Junior Initiatives

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

Global warming: our responsibility

Data is the oil of the digital world. What if tech giants had to buy it from us?

Eurozone: Avoiding a new Greek accident

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s