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Great Britain: Asylum seekers in Britain unable to access healthcare

November 29th 2018

Cost and fears about how they will be treated, or consequences for their immigration status, are preventing people seeking or refused asylum from using health services, a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found, prompting a call for greater separation of the immigration and healthcare systems.

Their new research explores the experiences of people who are or have been in the asylum process in Britain, as well as engaging with healthcare professionals and analysing existing research.

The project found some positive practices, such as medical staff showing empathy and compassion, individuals being referred to counselling services and charities acting as a lifeline for those trying to navigate the asylum and healthcare systems. However, it also identified a number of problems with the current system, many of which particularly affected people who need regular access to healthcare services, such as pregnant women and disabled people.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

’Everyone should have access to good quality healthcare, regardless of who they are and where they come from. People seeking and refused asylum are likely to have particular health needs because of past distressing experiences and the traumatic effects of fleeing to a different country. It’s therefore crucial that they are able to fully and easily access healthcare and that their rights are protected by keeping healthcare separate from immigration enforcement. This is just about common humanity.

’We encourage the UK Government and healthcare providers to review this new research and take action on our recommendations to ensure health services are culturally appropriate, accessible to everyone and that staff are trained to recognise and respond to the specific needs of marginalised patients.’

Read the Press Release here.

The lived experiences of access to healthcare for people seeking and refused asylum

 (Click to enlarge picture) This research aims to explore the lived experiences of accessing healthcare among people currently seeking asylum and those who have had their claim for asylum refused, as well as the experiences of health service providers working with these communities.

It examines the extent to which people are able to exercise their rights to access healthcare. It looks at the differences between those currently in the asylum system and those who have had their claim refused in England, Scotland and Wales.

This report, and the partner report providing a review of evidence, will be of interest to people who play an important role in delivering healthcare and related support services to people seeking or refused asylum.

They have also made recommendations for what changes are needed to make sure that people seeking and refused asylum have full enjoyment of their right to health.

This report was produced in collaboration with Imperial College London and Doctors of the World UK.

Access to healthcare for people seeking and refused asylum in Great Britain: a review of evidence

 (Click to enlarge picture) This research report is a review of evidence looking at the barriers people seeking or refused asylum face in trying to access healthcare services in the UK, and what may help them to do so more easily.

This report, and the partner report on lived experiences, will be of interest to people who play an important role in delivering healthcare and related support services to people seeking or refused asylum.

They have also made recommendations for what changes are needed to make sure that people seeking and refused asylum have full enjoyment of their right to health.

This review was carried out by Imperial College London, with primary data provided by Doctors of the World UK.

Recommendations: Making sure people seeking and refused asylum can access healthcare - what needs to change?

 (Click to enlarge picture) This document sets out the recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission for what changes are needed to make sure that people seeking and refused asylum have full enjoyment of their right to health.It accompanies EHRC research reports on the lived experiences of people seeking and refused asylum and an evidence review of access to healthcare.

Their review of the most disadvantaged groups in Britain showed that people seeking asylum face barriers in accessing public services, including health services. They are also more likely to have particular health needs because of past distressing experiences and the traumatic effects of fleeing to a different country.

These recommendations form part of the EHRC business plan commitment to make sure that people seeking asylum were able to fully access the public services they were entitled to.

For more about EHRC work on refugees, asylum and immigration, see here.