Yesterday morning Doctors of the World (DOTW) staged a creative protest outside of the Home Office in London. Parodying Theresa May’s infamous ‘Go Home’ vans from 2013, the stunt sought to highlight how immigration controls are creeping into hospitals and endangering us all.
— Jess Potter (@DrJessPotter) May 2, 2018
DOTW is an independent humanitarian movement working at home and abroad to empower excluded people to access healthcare. We spoke with Ella Abraham, their UK Communications and Campaigns Officer, about the protest:
“We parodied Theresa May’s abhorrent ‘Go Home’ vans today in protest of the hostile environment policies, and the fears related to those policies that have now seeped insidiously into the NHS. Our vans mimic May’s visually but change the messaging to read: ‘70,000 doctors and patients say NO to sharing patient data with the Home Office.’
We see every day in our clinic the life threatening impact the data sharing deal has on our patients; pregnant women and cancer patients are too afraid to access healthcare for fear of being tracked down by the Home Office which could lead to deportation. Our #StopSharing campaign tells the Home Office that this is unacceptable and we will keep campaigning until the deal comes to an end.”
The #StopSharing campaign highlights how the UK Government has arranged a deal between NHS Digital, the body charged with safeguarding NHS patient records, that allows the Home Office to access vulnerable patients’ information. DOTW say that “patients now have a well-founded fear that going to a GP could lead to them being tracked down by the Home Office and put into immigration detention centres.” Evidence presented to the health select committee has already shown the effect of this: it has already led to the death of one woman too afraid to seek prompt medical help.