In November 2018, the government decided to change the terms of cooperation under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Home Office and the NHS, where the NHS provided the Home Office with patients’ personal data, which was used to track illegal immigrants. The NHS only shared non-medical information, such as full name, date of birth, gender, residential address, personal contacts. Such measures were used to track illegal immigrants and created “hostile environment” for them. Medical personnel, human rights activists, representatives from charitable organizations and MPs have repeatedly pointed out that this approach stopped migrants from receiving medical help required. In fact, people were afraid to approach doctors, as they were afraid to be expelled from the UK. As a result, immigrants ’rights to privacy and access to health care were repeatedly violated. Such an approach also posed a risk to the public health system, when serious or infectious diseases were not properly treated and children did not receive the necessary vaccinations.
Following the recent changes under the new Memorandum of Understanding, the Home Office can request for personal information of NHS patients only when they are facing imminent deportation due to serious crimes commitment. For example, if an illegal immigrant was detained for a period of 12 months or longer, or if he poses a serious threat to the public.