PLEDGE TO TAKE ACTION ON PREVENT IN HEALTHCARE
Our primary objective as health workers is the duty of care to the patient in front of us.
Government policies like Prevent jeopardise this duty and consequently public health. By accepting all recommendations of the recent Shawcross review of Prevent, the government has failed to listen to the concerns of health and public sector workers on the harmful impacts of the duty.
Together as health workers and members of the health community, our duty of care is to challenge any and all attempts at making caring professions into an arm of the Home Office or police.
WE PLEDGE TO:
- Work towards healthcare which centres health and wellbeing, and prioritises confidentiality and trust
- Actively work against the expansion of securitisation policies and practices within healthcare
- Challenge the Prevent policy within healthcare
- Educate our colleagues about the harms of policies such as Prevent.
Ways to take action now
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PLEDGE TO OPPOSE PREVENT IN HEALTHCARE
As health workers and members of the health community, we reject this government’s increased attempts at expanding surveillance and policing measures into healthcare.
We reject attempts by politicians and others to demonise all—particularly Muslim—critics of the Prevent duty in order to dismiss well-evidenced and widely held concerns of the impacts of the policy. These attempts come in advance of the publication of the Independent Review of Prevent, which we believe has been an exercise in whitewashing the breadth of harm that Prevent has caused within health settings and across the public sector.
We note that from the outset, the government has not engaged in the review process in good faith. The government was forced to reverse its appointment of Lord Carlile as the Independent Reviewer due to a legal challenge and widespread concern over the validity of his independence (1). The government then appointed William Shawcross as the reviewer despite his previous islamophobic comments (2) and former role as director of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society.
Over the years, research on Prevent and reports on the demographics of those referred to Prevent—often young and Muslim—have provided ample evidence of its hugely harmful impacts. These include:
- the disproportionate reporting of people from Muslim or South Asian backgrounds, and those with mental health conditions
- well-evidenced and widespread racial profiling, implicitly and at times explicitly bolstered by Prevent training
- the erosion of trust between patient and practitioner
- mental and physical health impacts of referrals to Prevent on those referred as well as family members
- the deterioration of professional duties of confidentiality and care.
Alongside and undoubtedly linked to this evidence of harm (3), the strategy has never been proven effective.
In late 2021, 660 frontline workers (4) and health institutions such as the BMA and GMC successfully lobbied the government (5) into amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to exempt health and social care from the need to provide patient data to the police on demand under the serious violence duty. Change is possible.