UNISON condemns government plans to X-ray children seeking asylum

Proposal “seeks to make healthcare staff complicit in the government’s cruelty”

Xray image of lungs

UNISON members working in health have spoken out against government plans to X-ray children seeking asylum in the UK in order to confirm their age.

Chair of UNISON’s science, therapy and technical occupational group Gemma Jones said the plans “break the code of conduct of radiography staff and their legal duties for radiation protection by instructing them to expose vulnerable individuals to ionising radiation without consent and without any medical need, for a procedure that is not reliable to determine age.”

Ms Jones also said the proposal “seeks to make healthcare staff complicit in the government’s cruelty.”

The Society of Radiographers has also criticised these plans. Speaking to The Independent, their president Ross McGhee said staff should refuse to carry out the tests.

The society have issued a statement condemning the measures as showing “a lack of compassion to those in need, as well as disregard for radiation safety and a blatant lack of understanding and respect for the work of radiographers and the health service.

“The NHS is in the midst of a workforce crisis, while our patients are dealing with the stress of growing waiting lists. The focus of this government should be on addressing these fundamental issues facing patients, healthcare workers and the nation as a whole,” said the society.

These proposals accompany the government’s plans to dismantle the UK’s asylum system through its Illegal Migration Bill.

The provisions within the Illegal Migration Bill would narrow the ability to claim asylum in the UK to a vanishing point. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has declared the bill would amount to a ‘virtual ban’ on asylum.

UNISON believes the UK government is engaging in a cruel trick with these measures. Any asylum seeker making their way to the UK will be regarded as “illegal” and “inadmissible” unless they use an approved route. Yet approved routes are capped and extremely restricted.

UNISON is not alone in challenging the Illegal Migration Bill. The union is joined by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the UNHCR, the European Union, the Refugee Council, and Liberty, among others.