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Open letter to BJGP Life: A response to RCGP Chair’s ‘Just Saying’ on refugees to the UK being deported to Rwanda

Roghieh Dehghan is a GP, a Wellcome Clinical Research Fellow and Medact Migrant Solidarity Group member

Francesca Burns is a GP registrar and Medact Migrant Solidarity Group member

Joanna Dobbin is an academic clinical fellow in primary care, and Medact Migrant Solidarity Group member

Jonathan Broad is a paediatric registrar and Medact Migrant Solidarity Group member

Catarina Soares is a foundation doctor and Medact Migrant Solidarity Group member

Maria Marcolin, is a paediatric clinical fellow and Medact Migrant Solidarity Group member

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (sic) to do nothing’ are the words of, Edmund Burke, a philosopher that Martin Marshall, RCGP chair, chose to start his recent blog ‘Just Saying,’ calling out the British government on its plan to dispense with asylum seekers by deporting them to Rwanda.1
As GPs and hospital doctors we have been advocating on our migrant patients’ behalf since the early days of the hostile environment in 2015, when the inhumane and unethical NHS charging regulations came into place.

However, we have rarely witnessed our NHS leaders speaking out against these issues.

However, we have rarely witnessed our NHS leaders speaking out against these issues.

Some humanitarian causes become collectively sanctioned, like the well-founded and applaudable response of the British public and individuals to the Ukrainian plight. Those supporting these just causes are no less admirable for their compassion and solidarity in action. Notwithstanding, there are those issues that we all feel in our heart of hearts are simply wrong, but we look around and see others, especially those we consider authorities, the know-betters, silent. Seeing this we choose instead of calling out, to doubt our own moral intuition. Yet, those very moral wrongs that are less popular and ordered by authorities are those in need of bold leaders that are guided by their ethics rather than the seemingly ‘proper’ wrongs.

We (as NHS staff) know as Martin Marshall knows ‘viscerally’, that the way we have allowed the government to dictate us to turn a blind eye to the immense sufferings of those of our patients who are labeled ‘illegal’ is an utter violation of our professional ethics as well as our humanity.

We think Professor Marshall is mistaken in thinking that this is a ‘complex’ issue. It is not. Claims of ‘‘complexity” are a reliable tactic to silence ‘good people’. Over the past 8 years, we have seen UK Home Office policies increasingly impact the health of our patients. Through data sharing, charging, quasi-detention, and now processing overseas; the Nationality and Borders bill is the next in a long line of policies that callously and knowingly harm the health of an already vulnerable population.

It is time we spoke out. We must now rely on the courts, and legal challenges mounted against the government, as they seem to have lost any moral compass. We are not going to remain bystanders anymore. We are not powerless, we are not voiceless, our ‘doing nothing’ is inexcusable and a shameful legacy to our profession.

Reference

Marshall M, Just Saying (29/4/2022),  https://rcgp-news.com/49LX-1AXQC-19C6C0F95120D74FGCBVV7138F8A2C255F3CD/cr.aspx accessed 8/5/2022

Featured image by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

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