Do No Harm

Protecting the NHS from fraud, abuse and misuse is rightly a priority for any government. Only by demonstrating that shared resources are guarded jealously and allocated fairly can we promote public trust and confidence. But as well as being mindful of public sentiment, public policy must be driven by evidence and we should never be afraid to make the case for what is right and what is realistic.

This report highlights in particular the dangers to public health of creating new barriers which put migrants off accessing frontline healthcare in a globalised, interconnected world. As the Ebola crisis and the ongoing growth in TB and antibiotic disease have shown, ensuring early diagnosis can be key.

Do No Harm makes the case for changes to the implementation of the government’s policies to restrict ‘healthcare tourism’. This is built on extensive engagement with experts and practitioners in the worlds of healthcare, migrant support and human rights law. While it is right that government protects the NHS from fraud, it would be wrong to do so at the expense of our moral obligations, public safety and indeed the efficiency of the NHS in these cash-strapped times.

This report argues for new triage clinics to offer diagnostics to those worried about their immigration status; for a rolling impact assessment to test the impact on doctors and patients alike; for exemptions to charging for all children and pregnant women and for more safeguards about the way in which information will be shared between government departments. All of these measures are designed to help the government achieve their objectives while ensuring that new policies do no harm.