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The health of Gypsies

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 13 June 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1824

Problem of caring for travellers is British, not just European

  1. G A C Binnie, General practitioner, retired
  1. Ladykirk, Norham, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 1XL
  2. Institute of Preventive and Clinical Medicine, 83301 Bratislava, Slovakia

    EDITOR—The editorial by McKee1 on Gypsies, or Romas, was an interesting factual account of their origins as well as of the disadvantages and oppression they face as a minority group in continental Europe. Yet it is remarkable in that there is no mention of the disadvantages and oppression endured by the same minority community in the United Kingdom from the Romas of folklore in the south of England to the tinkers of Scotland and to the New Age wanderers who seem to seek the romantic image without the responsibilities. Now they travel in trucks towing large caravans; when parked they are usually seen in lay-bys or on waste ground with lots of dogs, children, and rubbish.

    In these unofficial caravan sites they live in the squalor and type of conditions prevailing in this country a couple of centuries ago—no clean or adequate water supply, no sewage disposal system, no …

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