Migrants avoid medical attention due to fears of being arrested, survey finds

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18th May 2015 16:22 - Health

A recent survey of 22,000 individuals by Doctors of the World – which runs a clinic in Bethnal Green - has found that migrants who are Migrants avoid medical attention due to fears of being arrested, survey findspermitted to reside in the United Kingdom are avoiding seeking medical attention for vital treatment, for fear of being arrested.

The charity warned that 83 per cent of the respondents had no access to the NHS.

Of the people who attend the Bethnal Green clinic, 57.5 per cent were foreign nationals, who do not currently have permission to be living in the UK. Doctors of the World claimed that the patients had been residing in the UK for an average of 6 and a half year, indicating that they are not health tourists.

As well as being scared of being arrested, other factors which put the migrants off seeking medical attention were: administrative and legal barriers, lack of knowledge about the NHS and their rights and language barriers.

The report also highlighted that pregnant migrant women in the UK are often denied healthcare, which they are entitled to. Of those who do get access to healthcare, most are sent large healthcare bills – even when they lose their baby.

The annual survey - which looks at the access to healthcare in Europe – also found that of the migrants in London, 15 per cent were asylum seekers, whilst 12 per cent has a visa, the highest figure of the European countries in the survey.

The survey also discovered that of the 10 countries surveyed, fewer than half of the children seen in the Doctors of the World surgeries had been immunised against tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. As well as this, more than half of pregnant women hadn’t received access to antenatal care until they had reached their second trimester.

Executive Director of Doctors of the World, Leigh Daynes, said of the findings: “The failure to ensure equitable access to healthcare across Europe is this century’s hidden public health time bomb.

“Austerity, poverty and exclusion risk robbing an entire generation of healthy, productive lives across a continent that undervalues the benefits of universal healthcare.

“European states must recognise and address this looming public health crisis without delay not least because it makes sound economic, as well as health sense.”

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