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
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower