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Migrants' Rights Network launches legal challenge against data-sharing agreement between NHS and Home Office

Date of Publication: 
9 November 2017

Crowdfunding campaign seeks donations as Migrants' Rights Network files for permission for a Judicial Review

Migrants' Rights Network launches legal challenge against data-sharing agreement between NHS and Home Office

09 November 2017

Migrants' Rights Network (MRN) announced today that it is launching a legal challenge against a data-sharing agreement between NHS Digital and the Home Office.

Under the agreement, the Home Office is able to seek confidential patient information via the NHS for immigration purposes.

MRN says it does not believe such an agreement is legal or ethical, as it violates patient confidentiality and puts vulnerable migrants at risk because they will be deterred from accessing healthcare.

A crowdfunding campaign page has been set up here seeking donations so that MRN can cover some of the costs of its legal challenge. The campaign seeks to raise £10,000 by next month.

MRN is being represented by Liberty in its challenge. According to Liberty, MRN has filed detailed submissions to the High Court that argues the data-sharing arrangement:

  • violates patients' right to privacy under the Human Rights Act;
  • cannot pass the considerable public interest test required to breach the doctor-patient relationship;
  • is leaving migrants too scared to access healthcare services they are entitled to, for fear their address and other personal information may be passed onto the Home Office.
  • discriminates against non-British patients.

Fizza Qureshi, Director of Migrants' Rights Network, said: "We are gravely concerned that immigration enforcement is creeping into our public services, especially the NHS … Health professionals should not have to be forced to act as immigration officers, or to have to breach patient confidentiality."

Lara ten Caten, lawyer for Liberty, said: "We are proud to be representing Migrants' Rights Network in their challenge to this toxic data-sharing arrangement. It undermines every principle our health service is built on – it is discriminatory, shows contempt for patient confidentiality and privacy and is putting lives at risk.

"This case is an important step forward in the fight to dismantle this Government's 'hostile environment' regime, which has seen the tentacles of immigration enforcement reach into our schools and hospitals, turned trusted public servants into border guards and spread racial profiling, suspicion and fear into every corner of society."