New doctors’ contract to boost investment in asylum services


Primary care services for refugees and asylum seekers will receive
a boost following the overwhelming vote by the UK’s GPs in
favour of a new contract, the government has predicted,
writes Craig Kenny.

Last month, almost 80 per cent of GPs voted for a new General
Medical Services contract, which will allow extra investment in
specialist services such as those aimed at refugees.

New guidance on caring for asylum seekers produced by the
Department of Health and the Refugee Council notes that GPs will be
able to increase their income by providing extra, or “local
enhanced” services under the new GP contract after

Currently, primary care services for asylum seekers are funded
through alternative GP contracts, known as Personal Medical
Services, or through Primary Care Trusts’ local development
schemes. But provision has been patchy or slow to meet the needs of
dispersed asylum seekers.

GPs, who are not currently funded for interpreter services or
for refugee trauma counselling, have often reacted by closing their
lists. Birmingham GP Dr Vijayakar Abrol provoked outrage last year
by putting a sign on his surgery door saying it was closed to
asylum seekers.

Dr Angela Burnett of the Medical Foundation for the Care of
Victims of Torture said: “The new contract could be a way of
ensuring there is adequate access to resources and interpreters.
But there is no obligation on PCTs to provide local enhanced
services, so it will depend on it being felt to be a local
priority. We hope that PCTs will consider setting these services

Chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social Services
health and social inclusion committee, John Beer, added:
“Although local government was getting funds for asylum
seekers, our colleagues in health were not. The fact that this has
been recognised is a big step forward.

“GPs should not have to be scraping round for
interpreters. Anything we can do to reduce the tension in relation
to asylum seekers has to be good for all of us.”

The overall aim of Community Care’s Right to
Refuge campaign, launched in May, is for people entering the UK
seeking asylum to have access to basic care and support and to be
treated fairly. For more information go to

– Caring for dispersed asylum seekers from

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