Sadiq Khan: Home Office is “Compounding” Health Inequalities

London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticises the Government for a lack of migrant support

The Mayor of London and Labour MP, Sadiq Khan, has criticised Home Secretary Priti Patel and the government for their lack of support for migrants. 

Khan stated that the current immigration policies are “compounding” health inequalities that are exacerbated by the current pandemic, leading to increased levels of poverty and prejudice for non-native communities

Khan is calling on the department to remove limitations for migrants for the good of public health. 

Khan said: “I am concerned that health inequalities are being compounded by immigration policies that can create destitution and perversely encourage discrimination against BAME and migrant Londoners.” 

Raising concerns that NHS charging regulations and data sharing with the Home Office, Khan joins others in the frontline of refugee, asylum seeker and migrant support who have criticised the government for such actions. Some migrants of less stable immigration statuses have avoided accessing healthcare in the past due to fears they will be located, harassed and even deported under the hostile environment

Some migrants of less stable immigration statuses have avoided accessing healthcare in the past due to fears they will be located, harassed and even deported under the hostile environment

Khan said by not suspending such data sharing and charging, the government is “undermining” efforts made by the healthcare sector and the British public in order to slow the spread of this virus. 

Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor and Labour MP, has criticised the Government’s approach to aiding migrants caught in the COVID crisis. [Image: Business Insider.]

Khan said: “We are now seeing evidence that they [the government] are failing Londoners who are fearful of coming forward for support during a global pandemic and hearing devastating reports of people dying in their homes or suffering in silence.” 

He asks that the Home Office extend their visa waiver to key worker migrants and consider full citizenship privileges for NHS and care workers as they have “risked – and continue to risk on a daily basis – their lives during the COVID-19 crisis.” 

Khan added he was “extremely concerned” about the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in immigration detention centres in the UK. He advised the Home Secretary to release detainees immediately if they were not a danger to the public. 

The NHS has long argued that the ‘hostile environment’ which includes extortionate healthcare costs onto undocumented migrants obscures their line of duty to care for the sick. [Image: Novara Media.]

Sadiq Khan has also criticised the idea to keep no recourse to public funds (NRPF) in place, a decision that condemns many highly vulnerable migrants to destitution. MPs and leading charities have expressed dismay at the choice to keep NRPF in place. 

Patel responded to the criticism by stating if NRPF is applied, migrants can apply for the restriction to be suspended. She stated that for those applying for the restriction to be lifted can now do so digitally. 

Patel said: “Applications are being dealt with swiftly and compassionately.” 

The criticism comes after the Home Office has been accused of causing migrant NHS doctors and nurses added stress and anxiety by seemingly going back on its offer of extended visas

Labour MP Neil Coyle said in response to Patel: “The Home Office takes months to process these claims and routinely makes mistakes.” 

Minnie Rehman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said it was “shocking” the government is denying vulnerable migrants this kindness, especially now. 

The criticism comes after the Home Office has been accused of causing migrant NHS doctors and nurses added stress and anxiety by seemingly going back on its offer of extended visas with no extra cost to the individual. That offer appears to now only apply to workers on Tier 2 visas rather than any visa. As of today, the terms of the visa support are not defined. 

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