UK legal migrants ‘too scared to seek medical help’

A charity group says migrants who are in possession of proper documents are still afraid of arrest and thus avoid seeking vital medical care.

Doctors of the World said the vast majority (83 percent) of the patients it spoke to for its annual survey had no access to the National Health Service (NHS).

Although more than half (57.5 percent) of the people attending its clinic in Bethnal Green, east London, were foreign nationals who did not have permission to reside in the UK, the charity said on average patients had already been living in the country for six-and-a-half years, illustrating that they are not so-called health tourists travelling to the UK for the purpose of free medical treatment, the Independent reported.

Administrative and legal barriers, lack of knowledge or understanding of the healthcare system and their rights, and language barriers were cited as reasons for not pursuing conventional healthcare routes.

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