Medical student Helen Preston, who proposed the motion, said that denying treatment to asylum seekers was ‘not cost effective. It just makes them more likely to go to A&E’.
Public health is also at risk, because denying treatment delays the detection and treatment of infectious diseases, she said.
She cited evidence from the Refugee Council, which showed that attempts to bar asylum seekers from treatment had resulted in ‘people who are entitled to care being denied it’.
But other speakers questioned the costs of guaranteeing such treatment.
And Dr Terry John, chair of the BMA's international committee, warned against backing a motion that would have guaranteed elective care as well as emergency care.
The motion was rejected.
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