Discharged asylum seekers ‘not getting support’

Social services departments are reluctant to provide appropriate
help to asylum seekers being discharged from hospitals because of
the financial costs, the Refugee Council has claimed,
writes Anabel Unity Sale.

Speaking at the Harrogate Centre for Excellence in Health and
Social Care conference on asylum seekers and health and social
care, Refugee Council specialist team manager Virginia Tshibangu
said: “There are a lot of clients falling through the net and going
in and out of hospital because social services area unwilling to
take responsibility for them.”

She added: “When it comes to looking at resources we need to
consider whether it makes sense for a client to live in a hospital
for six months when they can live in the community with support
from social services.”

Tshibangu said greater partnership working between agencies
working with asylum seekers leaving hospital would enable them to
achieve much more.

Kent Council strategic director of social services Peter Gilroy,
who chaired the conference, warned delegates not to assess and
diagnosis asylum seekers inappropriately in order for them to
obtain services under the strict eligibility rules of the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Gilroy said: “If we medicalise this system too much it labels
and stigmatises asylum seekers. This is what has happened in
America where all asylum seekers have a diagnosis because it is the
only way they can access money to pay for services.”

Also addressing at the conference, Hackney general practitioner
Dr Angela Burnett said while it was important to address the
psychological well-being of asylum seekers and refugees there was a
potential for health and social care professionals to make

She said: “We all know that black and minority ethnic people
were more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, be sectioned
and be given anti-psychotic drugs.”

Burnett added there was a possibility of “pathologising
perfectly natural reactions to highly abnormal situations when in
fact very few people actually have a mental illness”.

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