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Published date : 25 April, 2014

The Scottish National Party has called on the UK government to consider recommendations proposed by the Scottish Refugee Council concerning maternity care for asylum seekers. SNP Home Affairs spokesperson Pete Wishart MP has written to Home Secretary Theresa May to highlight the new report which calls for pregnant women not to be forced into destitution by the Home Office. The report commended the Scottish Government and called for NHS Scotland to be celebrated for the maternity care it has provided asylum seekers however the research highlighted a range of damaging Home Office asylum policies such as enforced destitution and cashless support for pregnant women- which make it difficult for them to make maternity appointments or to phone the hospital to request help, even when in labour. The study took place in the context of the Immigration Bill currently progressing through the UK Parliament. This Bill facilitates higher charges for refused asylum seekers for primary health care. This group is already subject to being charged for secondary health care, such as maternity services, in England. The UK Government recently rejected strong calls for pregnant women and maternity services to be exempted from charges for migrant access to the NHS in England. Commenting, SNP Home Affairs spokesperson Pete Wishart MP said: “This report highlights appalling policies that are strengthened through the UK Government’s Immigration Bill and the Department of Health’s proposals to widen charging for migrant access to the NHS in England, and both are detrimental to the fantastic work of NHS Scotland. “The report found that even on emergency ‘Section 4’ support – £35 a week made available on a payment card – women struggled to afford healthy food to eat, while others were placed in unsuitable accommodation such as hostels without cooking facilities. “I’m delighted the maternity services provided by NHS Scotland are being applauded, but the provisions included in the Immigration Bill clearly impacts on our devolved services and the UK Government are arrogantly imposing their UKIP inspired agenda on our devolved responsibilities.”

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