In welcome news last week, the influential Commons Health Select Committee wrote to NHS Digital to demand an immediate end to the sharing of NHS patient records with the Home Office. This follows a secretive deal in January between NHS Digital, the body that stores patient information, and the Home Office to allow immigration officials to use patient data to track, arrest and deport undocumented migrants.
The agreement was met with outrage from within the NHS and from professionals and organisations working on migrant health issues and infectious disease – including those working on tuberculosis.
People with TB symptoms have long feared engaging with health services because of hitherto unfounded fears about the impact of a TB diagnosis on their immigration status. For an infectious illness like TB, delayed diagnosis has devastating consequences both for the health of individuals and their wider communities.
Patient confidentiality is a fundamental principle for the NHS and must be defended – both to protect public health and the rights of vulnerable groups. You can add your own weight to the call to stop data sharing by signing and sharing this petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-using-nhs-patients-personal-information-for-immigration-enforcement