Open letter to the British Medical Association

Stop forcing healthcare workers to act as border guards, urge experts and campaigners.

18 June 2016
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Image: Docs Not Cops

We support the British Medical Association in denouncing planned charges for primary care and A&E services as we are concerned about the impact for vulnerable migrants using the NHS.

These charges risk worsening anti-immigration sentiment by falsely blaming the crisis in NHS funding on migrants who already contribute to society. The charges create a two-tier system that distinguishes between migrants and British citizens, and could jeopardise free care at the point of delivery in the future.

The complexity of the charging system makes it impossible for staff to make decisions on who should pay without discriminating. Those who should be exempt from the charges, such as trafficked people and refugees, will continue to be caught up in the charging process. And for those who know that they might be charged or even deported for accessing NHS care, it means delaying seeking help, as in the tragic case of Dalton Messam, who died as a consequence.

The charging programme requires doctors to make decisions about eligibility. Clinicians are even asked to “bear in mind individuals’ ability to pay” when considering a management plan. The BMA is holding a conference in Belfast on 19-23 June. We are appealing for them to promote the value that migrant workers bring to the NHS and stop forcing healthcare workers to act as border guards.

(Find motion number 328 in part II of the ARM agenda here)



Brighton Migrant Solidarity 


Doctors of the World

Hummingbird Project


Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants

Maternity Action


Migrants’ Rights Network

NHS Solidarity

People’s Health Movement

Positively UK

Sanctuary on Sea

Sophia Forum

South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group 

Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public




Dr Allyson Pollock (Professor of Public Health Research and Policy, QMUL, and Director of Global Public Health Unit, QMUL)

Dr David McCoy (Global Health Teaching Director, QMUL and Director of Medact)

Dr Elias Kondilis (Senior Lecturer in Health Systems, QMUL)

Dr Henrique Carvalho (Assistant Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick)

Professor John Moxham (Director of Clinical Strategy for King’s Health Partners and Professor of Respiratory Medicine, Kings College London) 

Dr Kambiz Boomla (Clinical Lead in the Clinical Effectiveness Group, QMUL)

Professor Martin McKee (Professor of European Public Health, LSHTM)

Dr Nicholas Hopkinson (Reader in Respiratory Medicine, Imperial College) 

Dr Sarah Steele (Professor of Global Health and Law, QMUL)



Dr Aislinn Macklinn-Doherty (on behalf of NHS solidarity)

Dr Alind Srivastava

Dr Angharad Spencer-Matewere

Dr Ann McCormack

Dr Anna Livingstone (GP Tower Hamlets and Secretary of Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public)

Dr Clare Gerada (GP and former chair of the RCGP)

Dr Coral Jones (GP, Tower Hamlets)

Dr David Wrigley (GP in Carnforth, on BMA Council and chair of Doctors in Unite)

Dr Dr Francesca Silman (GP ST3)

Dr Emily Dobell

Dr Emma Glass

Dr Evan Edmond

Dr Hidigo Dulane

Dr Hugh Grant-Peterkin MRCPsych

Dr Jackie Applebee (GP, Tower Hamlets)

Dr Jane Stratton

Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya

Dr Jij Chow

Dr Jonathan M. Clarke

Dr Julia Patterson

Dr Kailash Chand

Dr Kelly Cruikshank

Dr Lai Ling Tan

Dr Lauren Gavaghan

Dr Marcello Scopazzini

Dr Megan Parsons

Dr Mita Dhullipala

Dr Mona Kamal Ahmed (NHS Solidarity)

Dr Neil Tiwari

Dr Nina Dutch


Dr Pete Campbell (BMA JDC Northern secretary)

Dr Ruhe Chowdhury

Dr Selvaseelan Selvarajah (GP Partner, Bromley by Bow Health Partnership, Tower Hamlets, London)

Dr Thabo Miller

Dr Tomasz Pierscionek

Dr Veronika Wagner (SAS Doctor)


Other signatories:

Ellis Rea (medical student)

Emma Runswick (medical student)

Joanna May Sutton-Klein (medical student)

Khalil Secker (medical student)

Salma Yaqoob (Manager at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and Head of Birmingham Stop the War Coalition)

Sam Easdon (medical student)

Shohaib Ali (medical student and BMA representative for Imperial College)

Sophie Williams (medical student)

Stephen Naulls (medical student)

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