The right to see a doctor

Hello, Leonardo back here at TV Centre with my initial thoughts for today’s programme.

Do illegal immigrants and failed asylum-seekers have the right to free medical treatment? Not in many countries and no longer in the UK, if the government has its way.

The British Department of Health is proposing new legislation to deny people who lose a claim for asylum the right to see a doctor from the National Health System.


Today, 275 doctors have published a letter saying these are “foolish plans”, which are not “in keeping with the ethics of our profession”.

Only last week, many people here were shocked  by the deportation of a Ghanaian woman with terminal cancer.

Ama Sumani was sent back to her country because her visa to stay in the UK had expired. She says she cannot afford the treatment in Ghana.

It wasn’t an isolated case. Hundreds of seriously ill patients are deported every year from the UK. I’ve been told it’s not much different in France.


But this is not only a British problem. I remember going to a Polish hospital, a couple of years ago, where a whole ward was occupied by illegal immigrants (or asylum seekers) from Chechnya.

And doctors there were saying: our health system cannot afford.

How streched must be the health services in some parts of South Africa, with a great influx of immigrants (or, again, refugees) from Zimbabwe.

Should people be denied access to free health care if they’re illegal in a foreign country? Or is health a fundamental right, wherever you are?

Is it right to deport people with serious health problems?


 The man in charge of Homeland Security in the United States sees an attack from Europe as one of the main threats to his country at the moment.

Michael Chertoff told the BBC that there’s a real risk that Europe will become a platform for terrorists.

Security checks will be raised on flights coming from European countries.

Mr Chertoff says “home-grown terrorism” has been growing in Europe. But an attack may come also from people travelling from the Middle East and South Asia via Europe.

How real is the European threat? Is home-grown terrorism, as the head of the US Homeland Security Department put, growing in Europe?

Send us your comments, post here on the blog.


President Bush has just come to the end of his Middle East tour. The tone was set on his first stop, Israel: Iran is the real threat, something must be done.

The message was repeated at every stop of the tour.

But what was the American president’s visit really about? What did it achieve?

“Brothers in Arms” is the title of Robert Fisk’s article today on the front page of the Independent.

“As a bomb explodes in Beirut and Israel kills 19 in Gaza raids, Bush takes his Middle East peace mission to Saudi Arabia (and signs off $20 bn weapons deal with repressive regime).”

Robert Fisk, on The Independent

We would expect such views from Robert Fisk, a well known journalist, critical of the US approach to the Middle East. But does he have a point here?

He says Bush’s attempts to encourage democracy in the Middle East have not delivered the results the Americans expected.

Hamas won in Gaza, the Shias in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood had significant advances in Egypt.

Is Bush encouraging a return to an old Middle East policy, with support for regimes who can deliver security and stability, regardless of their human rights records?

Has democracy failed in the Middle East? Has the US given up on democracy in the Middle East?

5 Responses to “The right to see a doctor”

  1. 1 Brett
    January 16, 2008 at 12:35

    Lets go with the first one! There is quite a bit to talk about there socially, morally, and politically.
    The second, eh, just someone saying stupid things…
    The third…. well thats someone who says and does stupid things…. Bush is an idiot, next!

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 Mark
    January 16, 2008 at 12:59

    I think the time for the US to cut off all relations with Europe is long overdo. America has no interest in Europe and never did. Entering the first world war was a very bad mistake, good intentions in the first step down the path to hell. Revisiting American history puts Woodrow Wilson as by far the worst President America ever had. He broke over a century of precedent by ignoring the sage advice of President Washington who said America should not get entangled in European affairs. If Europeans want to fight World War I again over the Balkins, America should let them. If they have to fight the Crusades again, let them. Why should this be America’s concern? America has foolishly wasted trillions of dollars and lost countless tens of thousands of lives liberating enslaved Europe in two world wars while struggling to avoid a third often against their own efforts to surrender and they didn’t have even enough gratitude for it to address America’s own real security concerns by voting one last time in the Security Council to threaten Saddam Hussein or to cooperate with American demands for background information on those traveling to the US. America does not need Europe. Its small mean spirited people, its failed economies, its failed civilization is nothing but a big unnecessary drag on the US. Migrants left Europe to get away from it and we should keep it as far away as possible. And yes this includes not so great Britain. If the EU wants to allow itself to become another Pakistan, nobody can stop it. And if Canada won’t cooperate, its border with the US should be sealed off too. McCain’s chances to become President would be far greater if he hadn’t bought into Ted Kennedy’s Eurovision of one world, “Terrorists Without Borders.”

  3. 3 John D. Anthony
    January 16, 2008 at 13:08

    Illegal immigrant health care is an excellent topic. One might ask, “What does it mean to be civilized?”

    The European Threat story echoes one from a few weeks back when we talked about “securing the new Eastern frontiers”. My question at the time was ~ what about the old Western frontiers? A lot of the 911 people came here through Germany….

    Bush in the Middle East selling weapons for peace….
    Yeah. Right….

  4. 4 steve
    January 16, 2008 at 15:19

    it’s kind of sad that in the USA, an illegal immigrant can get a free healthcare, but a citizen cannot. i’m fortunate enough to have health insurance, but I can imagine why people would resent that illegals get their medical bills paid for by the taxpayer while they have to pay those taxes and their own medical bills. To the europeans, imagine if I decided to illegally move to europe, and make you pay my medical bills, while not paying much if any taxes since I’m being paid illegally under the table?

  5. 5 George
    January 17, 2008 at 11:44

    When a patient arrives at an emergency department with illness or injury that

    threatens life or limb should be treated.

    Long term illegal residents in a nation with communicable diseases are

    a threat to the general population if left untreated.

    Care for chronic disease is up for grabs.

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