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This Government Makes Asylum Seekers Sick

Dignity Not Detention | 07.04.2008 15:56 | Anti-racism | Health | Migration | Sheffield

Public Meeting - "Atrocious Barbarism": Limiting Healthcare Access to Asylum Seekers and Migrants
Monday 14th April 7pm at Showroom Cinema, Room 5, Paternoster Row, Sheffield S1 2BX

"Atrocious Barbarism" is how the Lancet medical journal described the latest proposals to further limit asylum seekers and undocumnented migrants' access to healthcare.

The Proposals
Since 2004, most refused asylum seekers and other undocumented migrants have been unable to access free NHS secondary (hospital) care. Now the government is considering further restrictions on free healthcare by bringing primary (GP) care into line with secondary care. This would exclude some of the most vulnerable people in the UK from free NHS primary care, denying their right to the most basic of health care provisions and putting their health at risk.

The Impact
'This will increase community tensions,' Jill Rutter of the Institute for Public Policy Research said. 'What signals are going to be sent out if queues of asylum seekers are waiting at A&E departments because they can't register with a GP?'
In addition, she said it could endanger public health. 'If you are unable to immunise people, it increases the risk of an outbreak in communicable diseases.' She added: 'The government is in danger of normalising what many people will see as a breach of human rights - someone's right to basic health care provision. The government is saying people who aren't entitled to healthcare should pay for it but asylum seekers are the very people who can't afford to pay for these services.'
Moyra Rushby of Medact, the organisation that campaigns for global access to health services, said: 'We are concerned that any further measures to restrict access to primary care will have profound impact on the health of an already vulnerable group of people. Potentially serious conditions such as asthma, normally diagnosed and treated in general practice effectively and at low cost, will be left untreated, becoming potentially life threatening.'

Speakers are:
Joan MacFarlane (Sheffield Central Health Team)
Joanne Miller (Medact, global health charity)
There will be personal testimonies from people seeking asylum.
Also present and on the panel for questions will be Maxine Walton from Borders & Immigration Agency. Mark Gamsu (Department of Health, Yorkshire &Humberside) and Jeremy Wight (Sheffield Director of Public Health)

Meeting organised by:
South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG contact: and Sheffield City of Sanctuary (see:

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