Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) has today published a report summarising the experiences we heard and the common issues and barriers affecting access to health and care services for asylum seekers in Eastbourne.
After hearing that asylum seekers in Eastbourne were regularly struggling to access basic healthcare, Healthwatch East Sussex provided regular outreach sessions to provide information to support access to health services in collaboration with The Sanctuary Café, which delivers volunteer-led support to migrants in Eastbourne.
- There is a need for better access to translation services, particularly at the point of accessing services.
- A better understanding of the rights and needs of asylum seekers by healthcare staff is needed to improve access to and experiences of health and care services.
- A lack of basic resources, including money, access to a phone and the internet, are having a detrimental impact on the ability of asylum seekers to access services, including making appointments and accessing emergency care.
- Asylum seekers’ lack of knowledge how the NHS works, including GPs as a primary gateway to services, which hinders their ability to access care.
We conclude that the root of the barriers experienced by the asylum seekers stem from three key issues of communication, the need for services to work together, and the lack of resources available to asylum seekers.
The report calls for further investigation and clarification from service commissioners and providers responsible for the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers in Eastbourne in multiple areas.
This includes a need to clarify the responsibilities of accommodation providers to support access to health and care services; to explore what and how information and support is proactively offered to asylum seekers to navigate health and care services; and to determine what support is in place for unattended minors to access and attend health and care services.
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