Mayor of London Ken Livingstone today warned that many vulnerable people, including pregnant women, were missing out on vital healthcare due to legislation preventing people of uncertain residency receiving free NHS treatment.
Livingstone endorsed a report published today by medical charity Médecins du Monde UK on the first year of Project: London, an initiative designed to improve access to healthcare in the capital for vulnerable groups, including immigrants.
Médecins du Monde UK found over half of pregnant women to visit the Project: London clinic had not received any antenatal care, and blamed 2004 Department of Health regulations introducing charges for NHS hospital care for people deemed “overseas visitors”.
This is despite regulations stating that all women – regardless of immigration status – must have access to antenatal care, because of the impact on maternal health and mortality of not receiving care.
Ken Livingstone said: “We have known for many years the difficulties faced by NHS services in adequately reaching certain vulnerable groups. No section of our society should be prevented by law from accessing health care.”
Director of Médecins du Monde UK Susan Wright said: “Ill-advised policies are having disastrous consequences for many of the UK’s most vulnerable. Rather than saving money, they are likely to cost the NHS more as those who are denied care become so ill that they need to access emergency treatment in A&E.”
National AIDS Trust chief executive Deborah Jack warned that pregnant women not tested for HIV were more likely to pass on the virus to their children.
Medicins du MondeUK
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