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Family fighting to end inhumane NHS charging for migrants wins major award

A FAMILY battling the government’s inhumane system of charging migrants extortionate amounts for NHS care has won a major national award.

The Justice for Omisha campaign received the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s David & Goliath award today.

Omisha Shrestha was just 10 months old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer.

She received life-saving treatment, but her parents were hit with a shocking £76,000 bill.

The east London family told Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust that they couldn’t afford to pay, but bosses sent debt collectors to chase the family.

Under the government’s “hostile environment” immigration policies, migrants given secondary care are charged up to 150 per cent of the cost.

Healthcare debts can be reported to the Home Office, which may use the information for immigration enforcement purposes. 

Last year, the family launched the Justice for Omisha campaign and started a petition calling for the charges to be dropped, which received over 10,000 signatures.

Trust chief executive Matthew Trainer issued an apology and withdrew the demand for repayment. 

But the trust and the Home Office have said that the debt will remain on the family’s record, which resulted in Ms Shrestha’s mother being stopped at Heathrow airport. 

The family are campaigning for the cancellation of the debt, an end to NHS use of debt collectors and for all hostile environment immigration policies in healthcare to be scrapped. 

Reeja Shrestha, Omisha’s mother, said: “When we receive such support, we know that there are many people who stand with us against NHS charging and want to right the injustices of the hostile environment towards migrants and refugees.

“This recognition will help us to reach more people and raise awareness about the inhumane hostile environment.”

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