Most General Practitioners Refuse to Register Undocumented Migrants Despite NHS Policy – The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (en-GB)


Mass vaccination campaign

There have been some attempts to encourage low vaccination intake in underserved communities by setting up mobile vaccination carts and promoting running centers. Many have made it clear that they are open to undocumented migrants. However, several walk-in clinics that we found advertised online suggested that at least some documents were required.

James Skinner, director of health and human rights for the medical charity Medact, said the government had left it to local health systems to organize accessible walk-in clinics, which were an important part of vaccine roll-out.

“The reality for most people is that whether or not there is a pop-up in the area is a matter of luck, and luck again when they find out about it because it is advertised on ad hoc publicity and requests to speak is dependent on the mouth, often with short notice. “

Improving access

Doctors of the World, a human rights organization, has attempted to address the issue of access by encouraging primary care practices to become “safe surgeries” by committing to follow registration guidelines set by the NHS England.

Manchester and Birmingham, the two cities most likely to be registered with “pink”, are areas where Doctors of the World have focused their outreach, said Anna Miller, head of the policy and advocacy group.

Cranleigh Gardens Medical Center in Bridgewater in the Midlands recently joined the Safe Surgery Network. Until a few months ago, the receptionists at the practice asked for ID, proof of address and immigration status. The practice is located in a deprived area where drug users live, and some practice managers feared that if patients were not required to provide documents, they could register at multiple practices for additional medication.

NHS policy states that suspected fraud is not a reason to refuse registration. Dr. Lucy West, a former GP practice registrar who pushed for the changes and helped implement them, said they tried to create a policy that would help administrative staff. She said the key is to understand the responsibilities and pressures they face and the bad treatment they can face from the public.

“Many doctors do not know this information. If you don’t know the principles, that’s a real problem. But they don’t tend to manage the daily routine of the exercises, that’s decentralized [to admin staff],” She says.

In the meantime, Averil Pooten-Watan continues to help other communities set up their own pop-up clinics. While her friend is now vaccinated, she has still not been able to register with a family doctor. Averil says her next campaign will be to help those who participated in her pop-ups register.

“I am the child of an immigrant who came to the NHS to work, and the NHS was built for free for everyone.”

“So far we have reached all of these people who would otherwise never have been reached and at this point it is a great opportunity for us to make so much more of it.”

* Some names have been changed

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