UNISON members “represent and serve the UK in all its diversity, and are proud to do so,” Liz Cameron told Labour party delegates in Brighton this afternoon.
But under the government’s new immigration bill, she warned, “migrant workers will be charged for GP visits or emergency treatment at A&E.
“They will have their immigration papers checked by landlords when they want to rent a home.
“The government says it’s only fair to make migrant workers make a contribution to the NHS.
“But there’s a very good reason we don’t charge migrant workers for visiting A&E or GP visits.
“Health staff aren’t border police: It is’t our job.
“Just think of the health implications of turning sick people away. That isn’t what NHS staff do.”
She condemned the Tory attempt to “turn healthcare professionals into border agency staff,” warning that it will mean “some communities in the UK will come under greater scrutiny than others”.
She told the party conference that “UNISON’s Black members have already expressed their deep concern about this.
“It will ultimately reward, not punish any landlord who discriminates on the basis of name and colour. It’s a cynical game, to punish the exploited rather than the exploiters.
“It does nothing to make people in the UK feel less economically insecure or better housed. It makes the problem it was intended to solve, worse not better.”
In all, she said, “this is a shameful, badly thought through, impractical piece of legislation and it should be thrown out.”
Instead, said Ms Cameron, ” we need to make the immigration debate less toxic and respond more directly to the concerns that underlie it.”