Government must cease its threats to the Windrush generation

Commenting on the news today (Monday) that the Prime Minister is to meet Commonwealth leaders later this week to discuss the immigration problems of individuals who came to Britain as part of the Windrush generation, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“The Windrush generation served us all and made our country a better place. But now we have to repay that service, by supporting so many of them in their hour of need.

“It’s inconceivable that people who have lived, worked and contributed to society for decades and decades should be threatened with deportation, when their children and grandchildren were all born here.

“Or people denied access to healthcare like Albert Thompson, who has been told he must pay £54,000 before he can be treated for prostate cancer, despite having lived here for 44 years.

“Nye Bevan said that no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means. That’s why I’ve written to Amber Rudd demanding that Albert Thompson receives the immediate treatment he needs and deserves, an end to to the threat of deportations, respect for those who have given decades to our communities and confirmation of the legal status of the Windrush generation once and for all.” 

Note to editors:
– This is the text of the letter sent to the Home Secretary:
I write to express my concern at recent reports of the case of Albert Thompson, and others like him. UNISON has consistently warned the Department of Health and NHS employers about concerns around the surcharge for migrant workers and upfront charging for healthcare. We were particularly concerned that confusion about people’s migration status might prove to be critical in the delivery of ‘urgent and necessary’ care. It appears these concerns were well founded.

UNISON also warned from the beginning that the UK’s settled BME communities would start facing increased scrutiny about their rights to access healthcare because of identity checks and upfront charging. We’ve now witnessed a series of reports of long-term UK residents from Commonwealth countries who’ve been left stranded by changing immigration rules, either facing deportation or a lack of access to vital NHS care.

It’s deeply unfair that members of the Windrush generation who have contributed so much to the UK – particularly the NHS – have been left stranded by rules that have changed around them. It cannot be right that they have been left to find legal evidence, often at great financial cost, of their right to live here. Albert Thompson is being denied vital life- saving treatment at a London hospital as a result of inflexible Home Office rules.

Instead of spending their time enforcing immigration legislation, healthcare staff want to deliver life-saving care to patients.

The Home Office has put NHS trusts and workers in a difficult position. I personally appeal to you to ensure that Mr Thompson receives immediate help, and look again at the case of long standing residents of the UK who are now facing anxiety about their access to public services or even the possibility of deportation.

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