NHS Digital and Ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care and the Home Office have responded to the Health Select Committee, setting out their position on the Memorandum of Understanding between NHS Digital and the Home Office.
The letters clarify that NHS Digital will only be asked to provide information in relation to individuals “known to and previously in contact with Immigration Enforcement”, who they can no longer locate. No clinical data is shared. In the quarter from November 2017 to January 2018, NHS Digital approved a total of 1,297 requests for information from the Home Office.
Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital commented that “We do not pretend that the task of balancing the public interest in maintaining a confidential health service against the public interest in supporting effective immigration management and control is straightforward.” However, the decision is to “continue to share this very limited set of data with the Home Office”
In light of the responses received, the Committee has decided to hold a further evidence session on 15 March. A number of organisations have published statements expressing concern:
Public Health England are seeking views on the impact of the arrangement on the health and healthcare-seeking behaviour of migrants. The consultation closes on 30 March 2018.