Doctors of the World UK intervene in migrant healthcare rights case in the High Court

Doctors of the World UK has provided evidence and legal arguments in an important case – about denying healthcare to people living in the UK without secure immigration status – being heard in the High Court today.

The judicial review, brought by an undocumented migrant, challenges the lawfulness of an NHS trust’ decision not to provide scheduled haemodialysis under the NHS (Charging of Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2017 (“the Charging Regulations”). Doctors of the World UK were granted permission to intervene in the case.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social care has also been granted permission to intervene in the case.

Doctors of the World UK hopes the case will provide clarity on the application of the Charging Regulations to ensure that people with serious medical conditions who are living and settled in the UK are not denied the urgent healthcare they need.

Doctors of the World UK provided evidence and made legal submissions to the High Court which drew upon their policy expertise and case examples from the organisation’s Hospital Access Project, where treatment had been withheld or partially withheld from undocumented migrants.

Anna Miller, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Doctors of the World:

“Managing a serious health condition alone, without the support of a doctor or access to medication is a horrendous situation that nobody should be placed in. In Doctors of the World UK’s experience the case before the court is far from unique so we are glad the court recognises the organisation’s considerable experience of the Charging Regulations and supporting people denied medical care and granted us permission to intervene.

“This case is an example of Doctors of the World UK’s key concern with the Charging Regulations, namely how they should be applied to people who are not visitors to the UK but long-term residents. In our clinic the people we see are people who are living in this country, and often have been for decades, people who are part of our communities, with families, children and their whole lives in this country.”

Amardeep Kamboz, Head of Services at Doctors of the World:

“Optimal health is essential for a person’s wellbeing and quality of life, and to be able to fulfil their personal ambitions and their potential in society. It is a right no one should be denied. At DOTW we have met many people with conditions such as cancer, heart conditions, kidney diseases or serious reproductive health issues that have been denied treatment or given a sub-standard level of care solely based on their immigration status.

“Many people that we meet at DOTW have lived in the UK for many years with family, friends and communities around them. Most are attempting to navigate a highly complex immigration system, often over very long periods of time. Through our clinic services we have witnessed on multiple occasions how the current Charging Regulations fails to recognise the complexity of people’s individual circumstances and in doing so, does not mitigate against dangerous precedents being set by NHS Trusts in which it is acceptable for some people in our communities to not get the medical care they need.”

Dr Hannah Fox, from Doctors of the World:

“At Doctors of the World UK, we have mounting evidence that the complex charging laws are misunderstood and misapplied by NHS Trusts, leaving people without essential and often lifesaving treatments. I have read letters from consultants imploring senior managers to allow them to treat a patient in urgent need of medical care. There is no doubt that these regulations are applied unfairly, cause great harm and are at odds with the founding ethos of the NHS.”

Janet Farrell, Solicitor, from Bhatt Murphy Solicitors:

“This case raises important issues about the meaning of “urgent treatment” within the NHS charging regime. Doctors of the World UK have serious concerns about whether migrants are able to access to urgent treatment as is permitted by the regulations, and they welcome the opportunity to intervene in this case. It is plainly of critical importance to many very vulnerable people that NHS Trusts get this right.”

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