Women including refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants are being charged as much as £14,000 to give birth on the NHS in England, a report by Doctors of the World (DOTW) has found.
The report, which examined inequalities in maternity care among migrant pregnant women and babies, gathered the experiences of 257 pregnant women accessing DOTW’s services from 2017 to 2021. It found that over a third (38%) who accessed its services had been charged for healthcare, often inappropriately. The women were charged £296 to £14 000, and half of them were billed over £7000.
The report said that inequalities in access to antenatal care experienced by migrant women were likely to lead to poorer outcomes for their pregnancy and the health of their children.
The evidence highlights the need for urgent action to address the inequalities experienced by migrant pregnant women and their babies. There is a pressing need for immigration status to be considered as part of the ethnic and racial health inequalities agenda and for independent action to be taken to review the impact of NHS charging policy.
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Source: BMJ, 20 June 2022