Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, has today visited an innovative project in Tower Hamlets which provides practical information, advice and assistance to vulnerable people struggling to access vital health and medical services.
Doctors of the World, in partnership with Praxis and other organisations, works to overcome the barriers preventing vulnerable people from registering with a local GP and other primary care services, such as a lack of information in their own language, legal obstacles which restricts access to health care, and organisational barriers including a lack of appropriate services at a time or place which is suitable.
Volunteer doctors and healthcare professionals working from the base on Pott Street, Bethnal Green provide free and confidential support on how to access health services and raise awareness of the importance of registering with a GP. For many, registering with a local surgery can be a confusing process, with little information available about how the NHS works or about entitlements to healthcare. Others may be afraid of making contact because they have been refused in the past or fear that they will be.
During the visit, Jean met with volunteers to learn more about the vital work of the project in facilitating access to basic healthcare services for some of London’s most vulnerable residents.
Jean, a leading voice on social inclusion in the European Parliament, said: “Early detection and treatment can be vital for many health problems, problems which are then exacerbated if people are not able to access health care because they don’t understand how it works, or if they fear that they might be refused treatment or charged for it. It is therefore impossible to overestimate the importance of this project which brings much needed clarity and support to vulnerable communities seeking to access basic health and medical services.”
“However, many of the problems that the project deals with could be avoided if there were a better application of existing rules in parts of the Health Service: people who have a right to treatment find themselves turned away when they shouldn’t be or deterred by language difficulties when interpretation could be available. The training that Doctors of the World can provide for health-care providers is important – but they are filling a gap which should really not exist in the UK today.”