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Norwich City of Sanctuary is keen to support healthcare practitioners to provide a welcoming and appropriate healthcare for asylum seekers and refugees. We have partnered with Doctors of the World to promote their Safer Surgeries project. Our vision is for a healthcare system that nurtures and promotes a culture of welcome for people seeking sanctuary, which is better able to meet their needs through awareness of the asylum seeker journey and barriers to healthcare.

Whilst all asylum seekers whose claim for refugee protection is still being processed have the right of access to free healthcare in the UK, many face a range of barriers to receiving adequate healthcare and in particular adequate support for post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, and anxiety, arising from their experience of persecution, war, and conflict. Sanctuary seekers can face very real difficulties in registration with primary care practices and face a lack of understanding from healthcare practitioners.

Oak Street Medical Practice in Norwich has become a Safer Surgery. They also helped during the pandemic to deliver online vaccine Q&A sessions in English and other languages to local refugees and asylum seekers.

What Are Safe Surgeries?

A Safe Surgery can be any GP practice that commits to taking steps to tackle the barriers faced by many migrants in accessing healthcare. At a minimum, this means declaring the practice a ‘Safe Surgery’ for everyone and ensuring that lack of ID or proof of address, immigration status or language are not barriers to patient registration.
Safe Surgeries recognise the barriers to healthcare access that exist, particularly for migrants in vulnerable circumstances, and believe that small changes in practice can make a difference. They are willing to lead by example and work to ensure that nobody in their community is excluded.
Doctors of the World have produced a range of user-friendly resources including a toolkit, a simple guide to NHS entitlement, have translated patient-facing posters and can also offer training for clinical and nonclinical staff on migrants’ entitlement to NHS care

What is a Surgery of Sanctuary?

A Surgery of Sanctuary is a primary care practice that has been awarded a Sanctuary in Healthcare Award. They have signed up to the City of Sanctuary Charter and have been recognised for learning about what it means to be seeking asylum, embedding best practice in policies and procedures to ensure welcome and access to healthcare and for sharing their achievements with others. These are safe surgeries that have taken extra steps to support vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees.

How can you get involved?

We currently do not have a lead for our Health Stream but for further information and please contact our coordinator Claire on [email protected]