Received from: RCM
In 2017 the government started more rigorously enforcing charges for migrant women for care during pregnancy and childbirth. Charges start at £6,000 and can rise to tens of thousands for more complex maternity care.
Research shows that charging for maternity care reduces the likelihood of
vulnerable migrant women receiving care. These women are at greater risk of poor maternal health outcomes, including maternal deaths, and premature birth.
The charging regulations have seen undocumented and destitute women billed thousands of pounds for essential maternity care at 150 per cent of the standard tariff – meaning they are being asked to pay more than the actual cost. Where bills are unpaid for more than two months, the NHS notifies the Home Office. Women are being deterred from seeking maternity care because they fear they cannot afford to pay and will be reported to the Home Office. The RCM is also concerned that the government has been withholding evidence on the health impact of the charges and that measures to protect survivors of sexual violence from being charged aren’t working.
The latest round of regulations point to more aggressive efforts to identify and charge migrant women. Requirements to produce ID before receiving care are an additional barrier to access for these pregnant women and distract from the NHS’s caring-first ethos. We do not believe midwives should be acting as border guards.
Congress calls for the immediate suspension of charging for NHS maternity care.
Royal College of Midwives