NHS staff are furious that the Home Office is snooping on their patients
Published 12th May 2017
On weekday mornings in east London, NHS doctors, nurses, therapists and administrative staff rush to the Royal London Hospital to hit the wards for the 8am shift. But many of them do not know that the NHS data records they create for their patients are being shared with the UK government.
“This [data-sharing] is quite unacceptable,” said Niki Margari, an NHS endocrinologist who was interviewed by Doctors of the World one morning this week. “People should have access to the NHS and healthcare without being afraid of being arrested.”
Please click on the video above to hear from Niki and other medics who work at the Royal London Hospital.
Doctors of the World’s #StopSharing campaign is calling on the UK government to stop using NHS patients’ personal records to find, arrest and deport undocumented migrants. You can support our campaign by signing our petition and taking part in our online protest.
Our clinics in the UK regularly see people in urgent need, including pregnant women and cancer sufferers, who are not going to a doctor because they fear their details will be passed on. The UK government and NHS Digital, the NHS body that stores patient data, made a deal published this year to further widen data-sharing.
“This is going to make people fall ill unnecessarily, and even cause deaths,” said Esther, a mental health nurse at the Royal London Hospital who did not want to give her full name. “Everyone is entitled to healthcare, whether they have their immigration papers or not.”
NHS staff have not been consulted about the deal, even though confidentiality is central to their job. The British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, Public Health England, and the National Data Guardian have all raised serious concerns about it – but they have been ignored.
“It’s really concerning because I don’t think anyone in the medical profession or nursing profession actually knows very much about this,” said Melania Ishak, a gynaecologist on her way into the hospital. “And I think we’d all be quite appalled by it.”
Mike Brandabur, a therapy support worker, said his main concern that his patients would “lose trust” in him if he couldn’t promise them confidentiality.
The NHS staff we spoke to simply wanted to treat people in need, regardless of their immigration status, income, or any other such factor.
“I think everyone should be entitled to healthcare,” said Ian Renfrew, a radiologist. “I don’t think there should be any border or boundary on that.”