Access to healthcare at the point of need?

Updated 24 September 2021: Bare Life films: NHS Borderlands – An investigative documentary into the human cost of charging migrants for accessing the NHS

After fleeing persecution in Zimbabwe in fear for her life, Angela sought asylum in the UK where she has lived with her husband for 20 years. Following a vital hysterectomy operation Angela is – without warning – issued a bill for £8,000 by the NHS, jeopardizing her life in the UK forever. Angela’s story exposes the real cost of the recent introduction of NHS charges for migrants, where discrimination undermines our society’s commitment to universal healthcare. The most vulnerable are left unable to pay and scared to seek care. There are many stories like Angela’s, most untold and undocumented. This film documents how healthcare workers and campaigners are fighting alongside Angela to keep the border out of hospitals.

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About Bare Life films:

Agnes Woolley, May Robson and Lily Wakeley are the makers of this film and together we are ‘Bare Life Films’. After meeting at SOAS University and then working in migrant rights, we felt compelled to come together to respond to the government’s recent ‘hostile environment measures’ and to document Angela’s story through the medium of this film.

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LSE: How the ‘hostile environment’ and online-only services stop the vulnerable from using the NHS

Trying to access public services without an internet connection is increasingly difficult. Getting care without secure immigration status is even harder. Matteo Besana (Doctors of the World) Laurence Lessard-Phillips, Lin Fu, Antje Lindenmeyer and Jenny Phillimore (University of Birmingham) explain the findings of a study into people who struggled to obtain healthcare during the pandemic.

When Joseph Ndau, an asylum seeker and one of Doctors of the World’s National Health Advisors, had severe symptoms of COVID-19 in March 2020, he called 111 and was told to go to A&E. As he arrived, he found signs warning that migrants need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. While emergency medical care and COVID services are free to everyone, the attitude and culture of some NHS trusts has not changed. Had he been undocumented, Ndau fears he would have been turned away.

Read more here:

Guardian: Asylum seeker given £100,000 hospital bill after suffering stroke

Simba Mujakachi says government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies deterred him from taking medication

Simba Mujakachi, a personal trainer, was just 29 years old in June 2019 when he suffered a catastrophic stroke that left him comatose. When he awoke, he was paralysed on his left side and unable to talk or eat.

His stroke could have been prevented by relatively inexpensive medication for a blood clotting condition that, as a refused asylum seeker, he was not entitled to on the NHS.

Now Mujakachi, who has lived in the UK since he was a child, owes nearly £100,000 for the emergency treatment that saved his life, a staggering sum which he does not know how he will ever repay.

“No one can pay £100,000, who has got that? I’m looking at the bill and I’m thinking, that’s a house,” he said.

Mujakachi’s case has received a great deal of support in Sheffield and across the UK. The Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, Olivia Blake, has spoken in parliament on his behalf and a petition created by his partner, Melissa Smith, calls for the cancellation of his debt and has attracted 75,000 signatures.

Read more here:

Independent: NHS trusts ‘wrongly charging’ vulnerable migrant women for maternity care

‘They were so business-like, even though I had just lost my baby and was crying. I got a bill for around £5,000 from the NHS before I could even bury my daughter,’ says woman

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Feb 2021: Freemovement: Government must go beyond a press release to get undocumented migrants vaccinated

In response to growing pressure, the government announced on Monday that no immigration status checks will be carried out for migrants getting the coronavirus vaccination. While Downing Street’s press release focused on the lack of status checks, further action is required to gain the trust of those whose lives have been ruined by harsh immigration policies. Otherwise, a combination of the Home Office hostile environment and discriminatory GP practices will undermine the vaccination drive.

Read more, including a personal story ‘The entire ordeal proved very degrading. Both my children and other patients were present in the waiting area witnessing my humiliation. Certainly, my experience underpinned that it is one thing to have a right in law but another thing to enjoy it!‘ here: