Médecins du Monde UK and University of Birmingham: Asylum seekers housed in temporary accommodation do not receive adequate and appropriate health care

Médecins du Monde UK and University of Birmingham: Asylum seekers housed in temporary accommodation do not receive adequate and appropriate health care

May 09, 2022

A brief new report published last month by Doctors of the World UK (DOTW UK) and the University of Birmingham details concerns about the provision of healthcare to asylum seekers in temporary initial and emergency accommodation.

The 14-page report can be downloaded here.

As the report notes, the Home Office’s use of initial and emergency accommodation, such as former military barracks and hotels, has increased significantly since 2019. As of February 2022, approximately 37,000 applicants asylum seekers were accommodated in this type of accommodation, of which 12,000 were resettled. from Afghanistan.

DOTW UK provides advocacy and healthcare services to asylum seekers in initial/emergency accommodation, both face-to-face and remotely. The report is based on data collected from users of these services at Napier Barracks in Kent and two hotels where asylum seekers are accommodated. Information was collected for 380 individual cases.

Overall, the report finds that initial/emergency accommodation is unsafe for asylum seekers due to a lack of access to adequate and appropriate health care. People with acute illnesses do not receive timely care. In addition, the poor living conditions encountered in this type of accommodation exacerbate and generate mental and potentially physical health problems.

DOTW UK and the University of Birmingham explained: “Our analysis of the data shows that people in initial/emergency accommodation had a wide range of unmet health needs. Despite the intention of maximum stay in accommodation for 35 days it was clear that the majority of service users had been in the UK and hosting for longer, often several months.There were many examples of how the hosting requirements were not meeting not meet basic human standards, which adds to the existing evidence base that these conditions contributed to, and may have caused, poor health.The conditions included poor diet, limited access to basic sanitary products, inability to store medications or bring in professionals to provide care.

Asylum seekers reported that they faced a number of barriers to receiving healthcare, including a lack of knowledge about the healthcare system, language barriers and administrative barriers.

The report notes: “Notes from social workers showed that service users who were registered with GPs, and even who received hospital care, still struggled to access healthcare. Reasons included lack of information about services or not knowing how systems worked. services required not only knowledge of the English language, but also of how organizations work and who to ask for help. Some service users could not use online appointment forms. Sometimes service users attended appointments but did not understand the outcome of the consultation. Often Service users have tried to get help from hotel staff without success. In one case, the DOTW UK determined that a service user needed access to emergency care and the hotel refused to transport the service user or call an ambulance. In some cases, professionals such as health visitors were reluctant to visit patients in hotels, despite requests from DOTW UK Access to dentists was particularly difficult when there was no NHS dentist nearby proximity to accommodation.”

Asylum seekers cannot obtain prescriptions and medical care is lacking, even for children and pregnant women.

Lack of access to prompt and continuous care meant people were left without treatment and left to suffer alone, the report adds.

Dr Durga Sivasathiaseelan, senior outreach services manager at DOTW UK, said: “It was shocking to realize that access to healthcare was not a priority when creating accommodation models for asylum seekers. I have witnessed how this has led to huge unmet health needs.”

Anna Miller, Policy and Advocacy Manager at DOTW UK, has warned that the new Nationality and Borders Act will increase the use of unsuitable military-style housing and cause lasting and profound damage to health and well-being. asylum seekers.

The Guardian reported that the Home Office rejected the report’s findings.

A Home Office spokesperson reportedly said: “We reject these claims. Napier Barracks is safe and we treat the well-being of those in our care with the utmost importance and sensitivity. … There has 24/7 medical support for asylum seekers at Napier Barracks, including a prescribing nurse, on-site dental care and access to local GP services, which include mental health support. Individuals at all of our immigration removal centers are brought to the attention of medical staff and, once assessed, may receive clinical pathways to health services based on their needs.”

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