New doctors’ contract will boost investment in refugee services

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

Last month, almost 80 per cent of GPs voted for a new general
medical services contract, which should allow extra investment in
specialist services such as those for refugees.

New guidance on caring for asylum seekers produced by the
Department of Health and the Refugee Council says the new contract
will “reward family doctors with significant additional income
where they deliver better quality and a wider range of
servicesÉLocal enhanced services will include those services
which are a response to specific local requirements, such as the
care of 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 primary care trusts 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

John Beer, chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social
Services’ health and social inclusion committee, said: “Although
local government was getting funds for asylum seekers, our
colleagues in health were not. Now this has been recognised it 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.”

Currently, only a minority of GPs provide health care services for
asylum seekers either through personal medical services pilots or
local primary care trusts’ local development schemes.

Some GPs, who are not funded for interpreter services or for
refugee trauma counselling, have closed their lists to asylum
seekers (news, page 7, 14 November).

– Caring for Dispersed Asylum Seekers at 

Community Care‘s Right to Refuge campaign, launched in
May, is aimed at ensuring asylum seekers have access to care and
support and to be treated fairly. More information at

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