Intended for healthcare professionals


Primary care for refugees and asylum seekers

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 12 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:62
  1. Sally A Hull, senior clinical lecturer (,
  2. Kambiz Boomla, senior clinical lecturer
  1. Clinical Effectiveness Group, Barts and the London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, London E1 2AT

    If the NHS stops free care for all groups, charities may offer the only safety net

    The decision by Médecins du Monde to open medical clinics in Tower Hamlets, east London, as an alternative to NHS primary care raises profound questions about society's attitude towards marginalised people.1 Médecins du Monde is best known for relief work in areas of disaster or war and in developing countries. Less well known are this non-governmental organisation's projects in European countries—more than 100 in France alone—for groups with restricted access to health care. Alongside its humanitarian clinical work, the organisation is committed to speaking out about social and political conditions in which its client populations live, and calling for changes to improve their circumstances.2

    Inequality in access to health services is not a new problem for east London, where inadequate recruitment and retention in general practice make access to the NHS difficult for the whole population.3 Médecins du Monde will focus on vulnerable migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees, and particularly on …

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