The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for the Welsh Government to reassure the public that everyone can access NHS treatment for Covid-19, without fear of being reported to immigration authorities.
Concerns have been raised that many people across Wales, who may have symptoms of Covid-19 but not ‘leave to remain’ status, may not be seeking the necessary medical assistance for fear of being interned or deported.
While powers over healthcare are devolved to Wales, justice and immigration are not. This means those without leave to remain in the UK could be going untreated and the fight to slow the spread of the pandemic could be being undermined.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“Covid-19 doesn’t respect borders and it does not care about your immigration status. It affects us all equally and we need to ensure everyone who has the virus can get the treatment they need and help avoid spreading the disease
“I am incredibly concerned that people across Wales may be too scared to seek medical help, despite displaying symptoms, due to fear of deportation. Not having ‘leave to remain’ should not stop you from getting the help you need.
“If we truly want to defeat this pandemic, then we need to reassure everyone that our NHS services will treat everyone equally. That we won’t be implementing visa checks at A&E departments or that NHS staff will not be expected to call immigration services on their patients.”
“I hope the Welsh Government will give this reassurance and apply pressure on the UK Government to do the same. We all need to be focused on the real priority – defeating Covid-19.”