The National Health Service (NHS) has handed the confidential patient records of more than 8,000 people to the Home Office as part of a drive to track down immigration offenders.
For the first time, the details of an agreement between the health service and the Home Office allowing requests for information on suspected immigration offenders has been made public.
According to the report of the Health Service Journal (HSJ), NHS Digital, which is a “safe haven” for patient data is handing over personal information of patients to the Home Office as part of a new memorandum of understanding between the two bodies and the Department of Health.
A memorandum of understanding makes clear that the NHS digital is required by law to hand over non-clinical patient details including individual’s last known addresses, Dates of Birth, Names, primary care service area code, GP’s details and date of registration with the NHS.
From 1st January 2017, the memorandum of understanding has came into effect which claims that the sharing of confidential patient information to trace illegal immigrants is legally justified in the “public interest”.
The latest figures reveal that the number of Home Office requests have risen threefold since 2014 as the government has stepped up Theresa May’s ambition to “create a hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in Britain.
The Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has called the practice “unacceptable” and said that the government have already used schools to gather immigration data on children and now they are using the NHS in the same way.
A spokesperson from the government said that the government share limited information between the Home Office and health agencies to trace vulnerable people and immigration offenders, and prevent those without the right to access benefits and services doing so at the expense of the UK taxpayer.
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