Last update 12th. June 2004


Migrant Healthcare

(Nick Green circulated a request to the ppifo list for comments on Dentistry and Obstetrics after enquiries by patients. Shu Pao Lim has raised the question: what if a non-english speaker is dying?) Ruth writes:

I support the letter to Rosie Winterton. So should the (Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust Patient) Forum. It was an opportunity missed not to put it to the gathered company tonight at the Town Hall as they too would have agreed I'd imagine and their support could have been enlisted for the letter. I propose this be circulated generally by Cida.

Dentistry is regularly used to exploit refugees who think they must pay private fees for it.

As for interpreting: there is Language Line and the Islington Manor Gardens service which serves the voluntary sector. The interpreting service is to be expanded - we await the plans with bated breath as it has been long awaited. Professionals need also to be trained in how to use the service and to demand good quality commissioning of it. Not cheap labour which results in shoddy practice. I could go on.

Obstetrics is a minefield for refugees. They often suffer interventions thay havent agreed to simply because no one called an interpreter and they didnt know they had a right to one. The UK carries out Caesarians at the drop of a hat. They dont benefit mother or child in such numbers. It benefits only the hospital budget as the anaesthetist doesn't have to wait till night time to perform their job and the service doesn't have to pay night fees.

Refugees often let their children interpret for them when its inappropriate. This is because interpreting is a service doctors are reluctant to buy. a) it takes up more time and occupies two or three slots of the surgery timetable and b) it is inconvenient to recoup the cost as there is bureaucracy to overcome which slows the Trusts's financial flow. GP's need to be brought on board.

Many are protesting against legislation proposed to disable refugees economically and healthwise. GP's and hospital doctors in Hackney have raised the banner for equality of health for refugees. I would like to see Camden & Islington do the same.

Ruth Appleton of Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust Forum