Refugees 'denied vital healthcare services'

Victims of torture seeking sanctuary in Britain are being denied vital healthcare in detention centres and the community, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found.

Hundreds of rape victims, Aids sufferers and traumatised children are missing out on treatment and basic medical help, according to a report looking at widespread discrimination faced by asylum seekers and refugees.

In one detention centre there was no routine access to female GPs, while detained women have complained they have not been able to disclose information about rape and sexual violence.

The report, written by Peter Aspinall and Charles Watters of the University of Kent, warns that the failure to provide adequate healthcare may help to spread disease and exacerbate existing conditions.

It said: "There is evidence of an institutional failure to address health concerns about asylum seekers in detention. More specifically there are concerns about children's health, mental health, treatment for those with HIV and access to female GPs, especially for women who have suffered rape and sexual violence."

The report adds: "A wide range of communicable diseases has been reported among asylum seekers and refugees, and there are anxieties about low rates of vaccination among children and the spread of multi-resistant TB. The risk of contagion, and low level of vaccination, is likely to be partially caused by the barriers asylum seekers face in accessing GPs."

The report also claims that up to a quarter of women in immigration custody have not had legal representation.

Asylum and medical charity workers said the findings confirmed the experience of hundreds of refugees.

A spokeswoman for Medical Justice said: "Sadly and unsurprisingly, findings of these failures accord with what our volunteer doctors have been seeing on the hundreds of occasions they have visited immigration detainees and seen their medical notes."

The head of Border Force, Brodie Clark, said: "The UK Border Agency takes very seriously its duty to care for individuals seeking asylum in the UK, and in particular the need to protect the wellbeing of children.

"Throughout their asylum application, all individuals receive the same free access to NHS services and additional support that is available to the general public. Families found not to need our protection, who refuse to go home, may be detained as a last resort. Throughout their stay within our detention estate, pending their removal, individuals have access to satisfactory healthcare arrangements."

A Department of Health spokesperson added: "All individuals seeking asylum are entitled to free NHS care. Immediately necessary and urgent treatment would never be withheld even if their claim is unsuccessful. It is unacceptable that ethnicity should ever be a barrier to accessing mental health support."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created