Covid 19 is proof that migrant healthcare charges are unsafe and inhumane

Feminist Fightback had been due on 23 March to do an open-air screening of a new film by Lucy Parker about NHS Trusts using private debt collection agencies to harass migrants you have to pay for medical care. This has now been cancelled due to Covid 19, but believe that fighting for equal access to healthcare is more important than ever at this time. Because this pandemic highlights the hypocrisy and danger of the government’s exclusion of specified groups from access to healthcare.

We note that as early as January the government included the treatment of corvid 19 in its list of exemptions from charging. This was done quietly, with no fanfare, unlike the grossly unfair raising of the Immigration Health Surcharge by over 50% to £620 per year which has been announced in the budget. This means that many people will not know about the exemption, and the fear and mistrust for health services that the government has worked hard to create in migrant communities will pose a real barrier to access to healthcare for those that need it, regardless of the exemption.

This pandemic has highlighted the importance of universal access to healthcare for the health of society as a whole, and the ways that we are all inextricably linked to one another. However, it is also important that we fight for access to healthcare not just in the name of public health but because it is fundamentally the right, humane and ethical thing to do.

We fear for the stigma that migrant communities may suffer over the coming weeks and months, along with other marginal groups, and the ways in which protecting themselves will be made difficult by their material circumstances. We will therefore be re-focusing to do our best to highlight these issues and continue to demand universal access to healthcare and all of the things that support it over the coming weeks.

We know many of you work in supportive capacities with migrant communities – if you haven’t already seen, we thought it might be helpful to let you know about the mutual aid networks that have formed in the last week or so in case you or your clients can make use of them:

Also, as we hope to be raising awareness and disseminating information about the impact of the pandemic on migrant communities, if anyone has any relevant information, please let us know.

We hope that you are all keeping safe and well.