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City of Sanctuary Health Stream and Doctors of the World UK Safe Surgeries collaboration

As mentioned in the Health Stream leaflet, City of Sanctuary ( CoS) and Doctors of the World (DOTW) are working together to ensure everyone, including people seeking asylum and refugees, has the right to healthcare in the UK. In this collaboration, we are asking GP practices to become a Safe Surgery as a minimum, and then we will invite them to apply for Sanctuary of Surgery award.

What is a Safe Surgery?
Doctors of the World’s (DOTW) Safe Surgeries initiative supports GP practices to tackle the barriers to healthcare faced by people in vulnerable circumstances, especially migrants, people seeking sanctuary and refugees. Through its membership network of over 340 GP practices (and counting), it aims to spread and celebrate good practice in inclusive and welcoming primary healthcare.

A Safe Surgery can be any GP practice which commits to taking steps to ensure that their services are available to everyone in their community. At a minimum, this means ensuring that lack of ID or proof of address, immigration status or language are not barriers to patient registration.

Member practices receive free resources, training (where available), a regular newsletter with policy updates and good practice tips, links to a national network of practices, and access to expert advice from DOTW for complex entitlement issues. Click here for more information.

Why become a Safe Surgery?

• Safe Surgeries tend to score highly at CQC inspection as Caring and Responsive practices
The Safe Surgeries Toolkit is endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the initiative is listed as an evidence-based intervention in the NHS long-term plan to increase access to care for socially excluded groups
• Safe Surgeries improves reception time management and communication
• Safe Surgeries improves patient experience whilst working within NHSE Registration Guidance

How to promote Safe Surgeries in your local area?

City of Sanctuary groups can learn from the DOTW  experience that there are several ways to promote Safe Surgeries local areas. These are mostly via their free trainings, which they can deliver via Zoom or Microsoft Teams

1. First and foremost, engaging with the GP practices, asking them to consider joining the network or at least having a training session with DOTW. All resources and training are free, and accessible on our website.

2. Engaging with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). CCGs have primary care leads or adult safeguard leads who are interested in improving access to primary care. Arranging meetings with CCGs to arrange free trainings with Primary Care Networks in that CCG seem to be a good working method to get the word out. CCGs also have Protected Learning Times, so asking for a slot to mention about Safe Surgeries would be perfect.

3. Engaging with local authorities. Local Authorities have Public Health leads, or people responsible for connected communities etc. Engaging with these people to see any room for promoting Safe Surgeries Initiative has also worked well.

4. Working with local HealthWatch and other stakeholders, groups, charities. We have seen that in some localities, a group of charities can work together to have a grassroots movement in the locality to join the Safe Surgeries Network. One example is that, a charity did a ‘mystery shopping’ style of registration, by calling GPs and asking if they would register someone without a proof of ID or someone who is an asylum seeker. Then they published the results of this survey, and got the attention of local authority and CCG, which led to the arrangement of trainings with GPs in the locality.

Please also see the DotW Flyer for National Health Advisors.  Doctors of the World are working with  people with lived experience of accessing healthcare, so any Sanctuary in Politics graduates or any person seeking sanctuary interested in working on improving healthcare for migrants are more than welcome to join the group.  Please share the flyer.

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