Your views

Readers’ panel: should NHS staff ask suspected 'health tourists' for identification before providing treatment?

In a bid to crack down on ‘health tourism’, St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London is proposing to ask women to show ID before they will provide maternity care. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say on what such a proposal could mean for NHS staff 
Nigerian passport

In a bid to crack down on health tourism, St Georges University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London is proposing to ask women to show ID before they will provide maternity care. Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say on what such a proposal could mean for NHS staff.

Jenny Clarke is a midwife at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust @JennyTheM

Practising midwives in the UK care for women from all parts of the world. They have a duty to treat each woman the same as the next, without judgement or discrimination. The MBRRACE-UK report, published in May, highlighted an increased risk of morbidity and mortality in women who have not received antenatal care. This flawed proposal disrespects womens human rights and could lead to

...

In a bid to crack down on ‘health tourism’, St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London is proposing to ask women to show ID before they will provide maternity care. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say on what such a proposal could mean for NHS staff.


Women could have to show identification before receiving
maternity care at a London hospital. Picture: Alamy

Jenny Clarke is a midwife at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 
@JennyTheM 

Practising midwives in the UK care for women from all parts of the world. They have a duty to treat each woman the same as the next, without judgement or discrimination. The MBRRACE-UK report, published in May, highlighted an increased risk of morbidity and mortality in women who have not received antenatal care. This flawed proposal disrespects women’s human rights and could lead to women birthing without support, as well as complications for mother and baby, social isolation and marginalisation. 


Drew Payne is a community nurse in north London 
@drew_london 

Drew Payne
This could put a huge strain on the nurse-patient relationship. It will discourage patients with immigration problems from seeking medical treatment. How can they trust us if they think we will report them to the UK Border Agency? What if the ‘relevant documentation’ required is forged? Will nurses be held responsible for this too? I am a nurse, not an immigration officer, and I don’t want to be one. Just let nurses nurse. 


Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust 
@lizcharalambou 

Liz Charalambous
As with UK citizens travelling abroad, it is appropriate that those not entitled to receive NHS services for free should pay. But NHS staff are already under immense pressure and it is unfair and unrealistic to ask them to take on extra administrative duties. 
This also raises wider issues, such as who should pay for the healthcare of those with infectious diseases or life-threatening conditions. I fear the sinister dimensions of this scheme if healthcare staff are used to monitor immigration. 


Daniel Athey is a staff nurse on an acute medical unit at Northern General Hospital, Sheffield 
@danjathey 

Daniel Athey
Refusing to provide medical care for individuals is not a decision for healthcare staff. We treat patients regardless of their situation. If the government or NHS trusts want to begin policing these matters, that's an administrative task for them to deal with. 
Healthcare staff have to build relationships with patients and this cannot be done effectively if patients feel at risk or threatened by the person providing their treatment.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs