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Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. 2009 October 1; 59(567): 765–772.
Published online 2009 September 3. doi:  10.3399/bjgp09X472539
PMCID: PMC2751919

Asylum seekers, refugees, and the politics of access to health care: a UK perspective

Keith Taylor, BSc (Hons), MPC, MRCGP, FHEA, GP and Clinical Fellow


The UK government has recently consulted on proposals to prohibit access to health care for some asylum seekers. This discussion paper considers the wider ethical, moral, and political issues that may arise from this policy. In particular, it explores the relationship between immigration and health and examines the impact of forced migration on health inequalities. It will be argued that it is both unethical and iniquitous to use health policy as a means of enforcing immigration policy. Instead, the founding principle of the NHS of equal access on the basis of need should be borne in mind when considering how to meet the needs of this population.

Keywords: emigration and immigration, medical ethics, primary health care, refugees

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners