The hostile environment is a set of laws that effectively makes migrant workers second class citizens in the UK, embedded within the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts and now embedded within UK society. It is what allowed the Windrush scandal to happen.
Anyone who had non-standard paperwork experienced problems when they used public services and there many cases where people entitled to NHS care were denied urgent medical treatment..
UNISON believes that the ‘hostile environment’ has put public services under enormous pressure and put staff in an impossible position.
Immigration controls are now part of everyday interactions between public sector workers and the people they are supposed to serve: healthcare workers and patients, police and victims of crime, and teachers and their pupils.
At a time when the NHS is under immense pressure, government policy has undermined the trust between health staff and the communities they serve. This cannot be allowed to continue. Things need to change.
The Conservative government introduced ‘up-front’ charges for those patients they say are not eligible for free healthcare from the NHS – including community healthcare services.