NHS Pulls Out Of Data-Sharing Deal With Home Office Immigration Enforcers

Jasmin Gray at Huffington Post: “The NHS has pulled out of a controversial data-sharing arrangement with the Home Office which saw confidential patients’ details passed on to immigration enforcers.

In May, the government suspended the ‘memorandum of understanding’ agreement between the health service and the Home Office after MPs, doctors and health charities warned it was leaving seriously ill migrants too afraid to seek medical treatment. 

But on Tuesday, NHS Digital announced that it was cutting itself out of the agreement altogether. 

“NHS Digital has received a revised narrowed request from the Home Office and is discussing this request with them,” a spokesperson for the data-branch of the health service said, adding that they have “formally closed-out our participation” in the previous memorandum of understanding. 

The anxieties of “multiple stakeholder communities” to ensure the agreement made by the government was respected was taken into account in the decision, they added. 

Meanwhile, the Home Office confirmed it was working to agree a new deal with NHS Digital which would only allow it to make requests for data about migrants “facing deportation action because they have committed serious crimes, or where information necessary to protect someone’s welfare”. 

The move has been welcomed by campaigners, with Migrants’ Rights Network director Rita Chadra saying that many migrants had missed out on “the right to privacy and access to healthcare” because of the data-sharing mechanism….(More)”.