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Hotels and old army barracks are threats to asylum seekers' health, report finds

HOME SECRETARY Priti Patel’s policy of using run-down military barracks as asylum accommodation is “unsafe” and threatens asylum-seekers’ health, according to a new report published today. 

Research by charity Doctors of the World found that asylum-seekers staying in hotel accommodation and sites like Napier Barracks in Folkestone did “not receive adequate healthcare.”

Evidence gathered by the charity showed that the substandard conditions were exacerbating mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

People were unable to get prescriptions, medical care for pregnancy and children, referrals to specialists or ongoing support for medical conditions, both chronic and acute, the report found.

Doctors of the World senior lead for outreach services Dr Durga Sivasathiaseelan said people did not have regular access to health information and were left to “navigate the system on their own.” 

“It was shocking to realise that access to healthcare was not a priority when creating accommodation models for asylum-seekers,” she said. “I witnessed how this led to huge unmet health needs.”
 
The Home Office is seeking to open more sites based on the Napier model as part of the Home Secretary’s asylum reforms. 

Doctors of the World is urging the Home Office to rethink the plans and “prioritise the health and wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Napier Barracks is safe and we treat the welfare of those in our care with the utmost importance and sensitivity. 

“There is 24/7 medical support for asylum-seekers at Napier Barracks, including a prescribing nurse, dental care on site and access to local GP services, which includes mental health support.”

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