Take action against the Home Office accessing NHS data!

Published 20th April 2017

We’re asking people across the UK, including medical professionals, to tell the UK government to stop using NHS patients’ personal information to track down undocumented migrants – and we need your help.

The #StopSharing campaign will use a petition and social media push to put pressure on the government to stop a policy that’s frightening people away from the healthcare they desperately need.

We’ve also made a toolkit for healthcare professionals who want to defy the data-sharing and ensure their surgeries are places where everyone feels safe to visit.

What’s the problem?

The UK government and NHS Digital, which stores NHS patients’ data, published a deal in January 2017 to give the Home Office easier access to migrant patients’ information. This allows immigration officials to get hold of patients’ personal details, such as addresses, and then to track down, arrest and deport undocumented migrants.

The deal makes vulnerable patients scared of getting healthcare. Doctors of the World’s UK clinics regularly see people in urgent need, including pregnant women and cancer sufferers, who are afraid to see a doctor due to data-sharing.

Patient confidentiality is essential for NHS staff to be able to do their job – and yet they have not been consulted about this deal. Concerns raised by medical organisations have been ignored and the agreement was made in secret.

According to the Department of Health, the Home Office made 8,127 requests for data in the first 11 months of 2016 alone. This led to 5,854 people being traced by immigration teams.

How can I help?

Sign the petition. We’ve launched a petition with the National Aids Trust and Liberty against the deal. We will take the petition to the government and ask them to respond. Use the suggested social media posts in step 3 to promote the petition and help us get more than 10,000 signatures.

Download the toolkit. The “Safe Surgeries” toolkit for healthcare professionals gives GP practices concrete ways to defy the data-sharing deal by keeping their patients’ addresses off NHS records, including using the GP practice address as c/o address. All suggestions are in line with NHS guidelines.

Contribute to the viral campaign. Download our social media pack with suggested Tweets, Facebook posts and graphics to spread the #stopsharing message far and wide. If you prefer to write your own posts, please always use the hashtag #StopSharing.

As the #stopsharing movement grows we will keep you informed about the Safe Surgeries created across the nation. Please contact us if you’re planning on making your surgery a safe space for migrants, or if it already is!

We will also present the petition to the new government after the election as part of our advocacy to get this deal stopped.

Put simply, deterring people from the healthcare can have deadly consequences. Take action against it today.

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With your support, Doctors of the World will make sure nobody suffers or dies due to lack of access to healthcare.