NHS England and NHS Improvement funded the Healthwatch network to carry out engagement with communities across the country to establish how the Long-Term Plan (LTP) should be implemented locally. Local Healthwatch teams worked together to find out what local people think, and this information was shared with the NHS to help develop the plan for our area. Information was gathered by utilising NHS Long Term Plan surveys and focus groups.
Within Middlesbrough we concentrated on the BAME community who participated in two separate focus groups. For one of these we targeted the asylum-seeking community. In 2015, the Middlesbrough population had the highest proportion of asylum seekers in England, at 1 per 186 people. It is likely that asylum seekers who have remained in Middlesbrough may have limited knowledge of health and social care services, and potentially limited English language skills, which could create barriers to support.
Working with this community will provide opportunities to identify specific issues and developing relationships will help provide information on where asylum seekers are falling through gaps in the provision of health and social care.
Summary of findings:
- Health and care services for asylum seekers and refugees can only be delivered effectively if asylum seekers feel that they are able to disclose their conditions with the confidence that this will not have a detrimental effect on their asylum application.
- A greater understanding from healthcare professionals of the cultural issues associated with certain conditions which can affect peoples’ decisions to seek treatment, together with an increased level of compassion and understanding.
- Greater provision of services outside of statutory NHS services. Asylum seekers who have been supported by voluntary or charitable organisations, who can overcome language barriers and signpost, are more likely to be engaged in services.
- Digital applications could improve awareness and access to services. At present, there are considerable differences in access to information. Development of an app to support asylum seekers could improve access to and understanding of services.