The new Valencian regional government has gone against the Madrid government over the issue of healthcare for illegal migrants, and has this week started to reinstate health provision for them. Until now, over 30,000 illegal migrants had been left without access to healthcare and, as most did not have the money to pay for it, their lives and quality of life were at risk.
Health minister, Carmen Montón, says SIP cards will be returned to all those who have had them confiscated since September 2012 when former central government minister Ana Mato announced non-documented foreigners would need to fund their own treatment. Sra Montón said her team had ‘ended the exclusive and abusive’ system put in place by the central government and which ‘deprived humans of their rights. Healthcare is universal and access to fair and equal medical treatment is not negotiable,” she said firmly. “Returning SIP cards to unlisted migrants will be done in stages” added Sra Montón, “so as not to suddenly increase the workload for healthcare professionals.”
The Valencia health is working closely with the Valencian Society for Family and Community Medicine and with the charity World Doctors. Illegal immigrants denied treatment included non-EU foreigners going through the long-winded process of renewing their visas, some of whom had been made redundant beforehand and could not prove the income necessary to get a new residence card. Many had been in Spain for years, often over a decade, with a home and family they had started since their arrival and children who have never lived anywhere else. Others included rejected asylum-seekers who absconded before being deported as they feared going back to a country where they faced violence and persecution.