WQ92550 (e) Tabled on 22/04/2024

What assurances can the Cabinet Secretary provide radiographers in the Welsh NHS that they will not be compelled by the Home Office to perform age verification x-ray and MRI scans on migrants?

Answered by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care | Answered on 29/04/2024

Over the last few years, the UK Government has introduced several pieces of legislation in relation to immigration. Part 4 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and sections 57 and 58 of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 deal with the issue of age assessments of unaccompanied children arriving in the UK without immigration permission. A series of consequential measures to strengthen the immigration system came into force earlier this year, aimed at supporting the delivery of the Illegal Migration Act 2023. The Immigration (Age Assessments) Regulations 2023 will authorise designated persons to use MRIs and x-rays in scientific age assessments. As immigration policy is non-devolved, this applies to Wales.

We have a policy in Wales which does not recommend or support the use of scientific or medical examinations as determinants of age. The science underpinning the determining of age is inconclusive and unclear, while the interventions have no medical benefit and could potentially be harmful.

Welsh Government officials are members of several groups that have been set up by the UK Government to work through how the provisions within the legislation, can be implemented. We are using these as a means to raise our concerns that the legislation risks compromising the safety of individuals as well as adding to the current pressures being experienced by the NHS.  

The UK Government has confirmed that it has no current plans to use the NHS to undertake age assessments and will be relying on private sector providers as recommended by the Age Estimation Science Advisory Committee (AESAC).