NHS trusts are unfairly charging vulnerable migrant women for their maternity care, new research has found.
Maternity Action, which conducted the study, said “fearful women” are calling its helpline saying they are too afraid to attend antenatal appointments if they are charged for their health care.
The organization found that many NHS trusts are “regularly ignoring or misinterpreting” the law when requesting payment from foreign women for maternity care, despite the fact that the government’s own policy is to not charge the most vulnerable women Should be taken.
The rules specify foreign women from outside the EU who are expecting a child should be charged for NHS care – with loans from maternity care affecting future immigration applications.
Fees start at around £7,000, but potentially double if there are complications in the pregnancy.
Ann, whose daughter was born prematurely and died soon after giving birth, is in the process of challenging the NHS allegations due to the fact that she is destitute.
She said: “I didn’t attend any antenatal appointments because I didn’t know if I’d have to pay. When I was 28 weeks pregnant I felt a lot of pain and went to the hospital. My daughter was born but she Lived only a few hours.
“When I had baby blue in my hand, the lady from the foreign office came and said: ‘We’re going to charge you if you sleep in our bed’.
“They were such businessmen, even though I had just lost my baby and was crying. Before I could bury my daughter, I received a bill from the NHS for around £5,000.
Ann said loan firms called every other day urging her to pay – adding that she was forced to explain that she had no money and that her daughter had died.
She said: “I still have to pay that money and I get letters and phone calls. I regularly go without food so my other child can eat, but I don’t know how I’ll pay it back. “
A major report in December linked the deaths of three pregnant women directly to the Conservative government’s charging system. Women died after delaying seeking help because of the wrong thinking they would have to pay for care.
Ros Bragg, director of Maternity Action, said: “It is likely that many women and families from Afghanistan will come here, and when they do, they will be met with a brutal maternity charging system that they did not rely on for their safety. May go. “
She said it is difficult to “overstate” the health effects of maternity fees on both mothers and their children.
“We are asking the government to immediately suspend fees for maternity care in light of our findings,” said Ms Bragg.
Claire Livingstone, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is not only wrong to accuse these women, it is dangerous. There should be no barrier that prevents these women from coming to our obstetrics services for their care or frightens.
“Many people have come from areas of conflict and may have had little or no antenatal care. This can have very serious consequences for their pregnancy and their children and migrant women more than any other woman in this country. So is the right to NHS maternity services.
“Midwives should not be pressured to report women’s immigration status. Their job and their focus should be on giving these women the safest and best possible care.”
Current government rules state that people who have applied for asylum, have been trafficked or are victims of domestic abuse are exempt from NHS fees.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: “By charging them, the NHS is putting these women under extreme stress at a time when they need support and full access to maternity care.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /