Extract from the forthcoming report No way out, no way in: Irregular migrant children and families in the UK by Nando Sigona and Vanessa Hughes

Meeting the health needs of a growing and super-diverse foreign-born population in the UK is a challenge for health services. However, these needs are currently only partially acknowledged and addressed. As Jayaweera (2010: 1) points out, government policy ‘has focused largely on addressing ethnic inequality in health’, leaving aside other factors that may have an impact on migrants’ health needs and experiences of the healthcare system such as country of birth, language, length of residence and, significantly for the purpose of this study, immigration status.

The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health is a case in point. While the 2007 report showed that about 20 per cent of deaths directly or indirectly related to pregnancy occur in women with poor or no antenatal care, it failed to consider that one of the main deterrents to access care may be the policy of charging ‘non ordinarily resident’ patients for maternity care introduced in 2004. For Maternity Action :

Charging women for maternity care has the effect of deterring women from accessing care, irrespective of formal rules requiring care to be provided even if the woman cannot pay in advance. Many women with limited resources are not prepared to take on a debt which they are unable to pay. To avoid the debt, they do not access services until they go into labour or something goes wrong.

Drawing on interviews with migrant children and parents, No way out, no way in offers qualitative insights into the impacts of undocumentedness on irregular migrant children’s health status.