What's the issue?
In January 2017, the Home Office and NHS Digital issued a memorandum of understanding allowing the Home Office to seek confidential patient information via the NHS for immigration purposes.
We do not believe it is ethical or legal for the Home Office to have access to confidential patient information without consent. This agreement violates patient confidentiality and puts vulnerable migrants at risk because they will be deterred from accessing healthcare.
This back-door arrangement also means patients and their GP's are unaware that their information is being shared with other government departments.
Dr Jessica Potter, said: ““Protecting patients’ right to confidentiality underpins my duties as a doctor and that of all healthcare professionals. If we break this, even unintentionally, we risk our patient-doctor relationship, and undermine the Hippocratic oath.
I will be supporting the legal challenge of the data sharing agreement between the Home Office and the NHS, because I do not want to be deterring people from seeking help when they are unwell. This is not only inhumane, it threatens everyone's health. I hope others will join me to support this challenge and help raise funds for the legal costs”
What are we doing?
We are filing permission for a Judicial Review to challenge the data sharing agreement between the Home Office, NHS Digital and the Department of Health. This agreement is unethical and undermines confidentiality, so we are going to take this case to the High Court.
Where is the money going?
The Home Office has warned us we could be liable for upto £50,000 in legal costs, if we lost the case. MRN already has limited resources, and would be unable to afford these costs, and it would struggle to continue its activities.
To offer us some protection, we are seeking this funding, which will enable us to continue to advocate on behalf of vulnerable and at-risk groups.
Who are we?
The Migrant's Rights Network (MRN) is a campaigning organisation that is working for the rights of all migrants in the UK. We believe in a rights-based approach to migration policies, and work with migrant and refugee communities to amplify their voices on issues that affect them.
For the past decade, MRN has been worried about the creep of immigration enforcement into public services, like health. The policing of health services for immigration purposes has placed increasing pressure on health professionals to act like immigration officers.
We believe that such practices in health services deters vulnerable migrants from coming forward to seek essential medical help, and affects the doctor-patient relationship.
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