Max is a 19-year-old Canadian student who’s doing a summer volunteer placement with Doctors of the World’s UK team. Working at our London clinic and on our advice line, he helps vulnerable people such as asylum seekers and undocumented migrants to register with a GP.

“These patients need and deserve to see a doctor,” says Max. “They’re almost always living below the poverty line and they don’t have any stability. They’ve also usually been in the UK for a long time, at least five years, before they come to us. They've waited until a health problem got really bad before even trying to see a doctor.” 

Many of our patients have been wrongly turned away by their local surgery before we step in and advocate on their behalf. Everyone in the UK has the right to see a GP for free - no documents to prove identity, address, or immigration status are required.

“If I help someone register with a GP on one day, I’ll put in a call the next week to make sure everything has gone okay," says Max. "I like following up, making sure that what you’ve done for someone will have an impact that lasts.”

Max's work involves difficult moments too. He recently saw a Filipino domestic worker at our clinic who decided not to register with a GP because the Home Office, the government department that handles immigration, is using NHS patients’ private records to obtain addresses and deport undocumented migrants.

“I’m learning a lot about how to work with vulnerable people," Max says of his role. "When we compile case histories, the information we have to ask for is often really sensitive and personal. I’m learning how to approach these topics and earn people's trust.”