OK Guys, we need to help out here. Got a British Passport? Know anyone that does?

While many Manxies overseas wonder why the island still bothers to cling to the UK, they will surely get riled when they discover that the Manx are now victims of racial discrimination. Currently the UK, in Gordon Brown’s attempt to “take them back to their bed and breakfast days”, is planning to end the Reciprocal Health Agreement on 1 April. The ending of the agreement means Manx residents travelling to the UK must take out insurance from 1 April in case they fall ill. Island residents will still get free emergency treatment in the UK but any hospital admissions will be billed. And vice versa, with all the consequences for the TT that go with it.

As this letter from a Manxie in the UK explains, this ain’t fair.

Trevor Phillips
Equality and Human Rights Commission
3 More London,
Riverside Tooley Street,
London, SE1 RG

Dear Mr. Phillips,

I am writing to draw your attention to the UK government’s decision to end the reciprocal health agreement with the Isle of Man, due to take effect in April 2010 and to ask the Equality and Human Rights Commission to assist in challenging that decision. I am personally affected by this development as I am Manx and, although I am now a UK resident; I have close family including my parents who live on the Isle of Man. The end of the reciprocal health agreement will mean that if my family are visiting me they will not be entitled to free access to the local GP or hospital (apart from A&E) should they become ill while they are in the UK even though we are all British citizens. The UK continues to have reciprocal healthcare agreements with many countries in Europe and beyond whose nationals and residents would be entitled to free healthcare in the UK even though Manx (and Channel Island) British residents would not – this seems to me to be an arbitrary decision.

The effect of the decision will be most keenly felt by the elderly and people with long term illness or disability who may not be able to take out adequate travel insurance to visit their families on the other side of the water. It will also particularly affect people, like me, who are of Manx origin. If you consider the impact of such a decision if it were applied to Scotland of Northern Ireland, you may understand how this will affect the many Manx people who have made their home in the UK and who form a national minority in Britain.

I understand that the Minister, Andy Burnham, has refused to reconsider the decision despite being approached by Members of Tynwald and by the AIRE Centre and in spite of 8460 people (to date) signing an online 10 Downing Street petition to reinstate the health agreement. I believe that the Government has not conducted any kind of equality impact assessment into the likely effect of this decision. I hope that this is an issue that the EHRC can take up with the Department of Health as it will have a detrimental effect on the family life of many UK residents, in particular the most vulnerable who cannot have access to insurance by virtue of age or illness.

Yours sincerely

Debo Sellis
County Councillor
Devon County Council
(Vice Chairman of Health Scrutiny)

If you have a British passport, please consider signing the 10 Downing Street petition here.