Recognise the health risks of NHS-Home Office data sharing to vulnerable pregnant migrants
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We call for the government to acknowledge the impact of data sharing stated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NHS digital, the Home Office and the Department of Health on vulnerable pregnant migrants. Despite healthcare being a fundamental right in the UK and maternity care being deemed as “immediately necessary”, pregnant undocumented migrants and women with complex asylum claims are being discouraged from accessing the health care they need. The NHS can request patients to fill out a pre-attendance form when seeking healthcare. The form, administered by the government, asks for personal information which may be passed on to the Home Office. This information can create problems for future claims of residency and is used by the Home Office to enforce immigration control including deportation. This use of NHS patient information has a particularly detrimental impact on the vulnerable group of mothers and pregnant migrants living in the UK. Proper healthcare during the course of pregnancy is essential for both mother and baby. However, because of this threat of information sharing, many women do not seek the antenatal and postnatal care they need.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for … health and wellbeing.” Within this, the UDHR states that mothers and babies should be entitled to special help. By adopting this declaration the government agreed to protect this right; however, the MOU contradicts this.
We call on the UK government to review this MOU and make the necessary amendments to protect the health and well-being of vulnerable pregnant migrants.
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