Migrants denied GP services

Haringey Welcome’s GP surgery survey highlights barriers to healthcare

Haringey Welcome in the community

By Alastair Ball

GP practices in Tottenham have refused to register undocumented migrants, according to a recent survey.

Local campaigners, Haringey Welcome
carried out a ‘secret shopper’ survey of 17 of the 38 GP surgeries
in the borough in May, to find out if they were putting barriers in place that prevented migrants from accessing healthcare.

Haringey Welcome campaign coordinator, Miri Weingarten said: “Of the 17 [GP surgeries] we surveyed, eight were in Tottenham and of those eight all of them had problems.”

“There’s a real problem of lack of knowledge, even amongst well-meaning staff who would like to assist, [but] who don’t know the law or the guidance.”

Haringey Welcome promotes ‘dignity and respect for migrants and refugees.’

They carried out the survey after being told that migrants in Haringey were struggling to ‘access primary healthcare services via GP surgeries, as they are wrongly told they require ID and proof of address to register.’

Miri said: “The official rules are that they [GP surgeries] can request those things, but it’s unreasonable to deny somebody registration because of it.”

“A clinic is perfectly entitled to say ‘no referrals’ or ‘no you’re not in our catchment area, we can’t register you’, but lack of residency status or lack of an address or lack of a formal ID are not considered reasonable reasons for refusing registration.”

The report, which was presented to NHS Haringey Clinical Commissioning Group last month, concludes that further work is needed to investigate why some practices appear to have more awareness than others of the needs and rights of migrants and other vulnerable patients in the borough.

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