The Equality and Human Rights Commission have published research calling on the UK Government and healthcare providers to uphold equality and human rights obligations by facilitating access to healthcare services for all. Their research reviewed existing evidence on the topic and explored the views of people who are or have been in the asylum process in Britain to identify the barriers they face to accessing healthcare and how these can be overcome. The research identified several pieces of policy and legislation that can negatively affect access to healthcare, including NHS charging policy in England, fear of data being shared with the Home Office, and the dispersal process, which disrupts continuity of healthcare and social networks that people rely upon. The report calls on the Government to ensure there is a clear separation between immigration proceedings and the provision of healthcare services; and recommends that all people who have been in the asylum process in England are exempt from NHS healthcare charging, in line with policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It further recommends the Government ‘ensure that people seeking asylum have the necessary financial resources to fully access healthcare services by: ensuring they are able to afford costs associated with making and attending relevant healthcare appointments, by either raising the level of financial support provided by the Home Office, or extending the right to work for people seeking asylum who have been waiting for a decision on their application for more than 6 months.’ You can read more about the research findings here and join the conversation on social media using #AccessHealthcare #AsylumHealthcare #Healthcare.