Since 2017, we’ve been running a major campaign to end NHS charges for migrants.
Migrant charges were introduced as part of the hostile environment, following a change in the law in 2014 that redefined what it means to be ordinarily resident in the UK. It leaves undocumented migrants facing bills of 150% of the cost of hospital treatment and having their details shared with the Home Office. Some who can’t pay are being denied care.
Meanwhile, people on student and work visas – even if they work in the NHS – are now charged hundreds of pounds each year in health surcharges.
This campaign is local, regional and national, and has the support of several unions and professional associations.
We work actively with our sister health campaigns, local faith and community groups, as well as Medact, DocsNotCops, Migrants Organise, Maternity Alliance and other NGOs on this issue.
For a more detailed explanation of the issues and some fantastic campaigning resources, go to the DocsNotCops website.
Pushing back against GP at Hand
GP at Hand is a GP practice, based in west London, which is using a privately provided, digital-first, chatbot system to hoover up young, fit, NHS patients across London, using NHS money. It leaves GPs in Tower Hamlets and elsewhere with less money to provide services to those who are older and sicker, while there are also big questions about how safe the app really is. We’ve been campaigning on this issue since 2018.
Backing outsourced NHS workers
A scrapped 10-minute tea break, in the spring of 2017, saw an immediate walk-out by 110 of the Royal London’s outsourced NHS workers. The change had been announced by Serco managers just three days after taking over the outsourcing contract at Barts Health from failed outsourcing giant Carillion.
Just four months later, 700 cleaners, security guards, catering staff and porters at the Royal London Hospital went on strike after being refused a 30p pay rise. The outsourcing contract is tied in closely to the Private Finance Initiative deal that has left the Trust with growing debt.
We back these staff 100%. They should be paid fairly and brought back into the NHS properly.
Backing nurses and doctors
In 2015-16,we backed local junior doctors taking part in their first-ever national strike against damaging new working conditions. We also joined marches organised by nurses in their #BursaryOrBust campaign to abolish fees and student loans, and reinstate their grants.
The campaign against PFI
Barts Health NHS has been crippled with debt, thanks to the decision to pay for the rebuilding of the Royal London Hospital with the most expensive Private Finance Initiative contract in the NHS.
Throughout 2015-16, we backed the local campaign led by People vs Barts PFI.
Five GP surgeries saved
We were at the heart of the Save Our Surgeries campaign during 2013-15, which gained support across the whole of Tower Hamlets. The campaign saved five Tower Hamlets GP surgeries from closure, after NHS England made catastrophic changes to their funding.
Supporting bilingual advocates
We backed the campaign to stop vital patient support staff from being cut from the local NHS in 2014. The cuts threatened an essential service, provided in multiple languages by an experienced team of advocates to some of Tower Hamlets’ most vulnerable communities.