Liberal Democrats in Tower Hamlets will oppose plans to make patients show their passports.
Newspapers are reporting government plans to make patients provide two forms of identification, including their passport, before receiving NHS treatment, allegedly to save money spent treating non-UK citizens.
But the real victims will be poor British patients who do not have passports, because they have never been abroad or cannot afford the cost, or the vulnerable patients who are unable to manage paperwork, because of physical or mental disability.
This is an attack on two fundamental freedoms at once:
- the NHS must be free at the point of need, without needing to prove entitlement;
- and making people produce their papers is a step towards ID cards by the back door.
And we fear that this is yet another excuse for “racial profiling” – just who is more likely to be asked for their passports – giving more encouragement to those committing hate-crimes and making the post-Brexit fractures in our society even worse.
We all benefit from people in the UK – residents or visitors – being in good health. And everyone’s good health benefits from us working together to support the NHS.
Anecdotes, scaremongering and labelling people “health tourists” are not a basis of evidence-led policy making.
The NHS is in crisis because of Tory cuts not some unmeasurably tiny cost of visitors needing treatment, but this shambolic government once again is trying to put the blame on “foreigners”.