The UK is breaking UN rules by not giving free NHS treatment to undocumented migrant children, according to experts.
A group of seven academics, including a Public Health England spokesperson, say the health service must change track and improve its care for children.
As many as 65,000 children who were born in the UK may be being denied free NHS care because of a ‘hostile environment’ policy, their editorial said.
Writing in the journal the Archives of Disease in Childhood today, the group of experts from English universities warned the country is breaking the UN’s convention on children’s rights.
Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says governments must give all children good quality health care.
But the researchers led by Dr Neal Russell, an expert in child health at St George’s University in London, say the UK isn’t doing this because it charges undocumented migrant families for care.
The charging is part of the Government’s ‘hostile environment policy’, a set of laws designed to make it difficult or unappealing for illegal immigrants to stay in the UK.
But the prospect of medical costs may drive families with a legitimate right to care away from NHS hospitals, the experts said, putting children’s health and wellbeing at risk.