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I'm a GP afraid for my patients in case of no-deal Brexit

2 80 0
16.08.2019

I volunteer as a GP in Doctors of the World’s clinic, helping people in vulnerable circumstances access care. There, I met Sara*.

When I first saw her, I thought she was cuddling a baby under her cardigan and that she had brought her sick child to see us. I was terribly wrong.

Sara hadn’t seen a doctor in a very long time. Terrified of having to pay a huge bill or being deported, she had waited as long as she could before asking anyone about the lump in her breast. Sara had waited so long that now her lump was weeping, infected and enormous.

A few months ago, her cancer might have been curable, but now it was too late. Sara had waited for such a long time that there was nothing left for me to do but try to help her get palliative care. I have been a family doctor since 1984 and I thought I was an experienced GP, but nothing prepared me for the day I met her.

This is the reality for many people in this country. Borders and immigration checks have infiltrated the NHS so much that this woman was so afraid of being reported to the Home Office and charged that she waited until there was nothing else left to do.

Questions about immigration status are now routine in registering at a GP, attending A&E or hospital appointments.

For Sara, her immigration status had been put before her health by policy makers, even though doctors just want to treat patients and fulfill their Hippocratic oath.

At Doctors of the World’s clinic........

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