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Day Two #SafeBirths – Sarah

Published 27th November 2018

They are living in our communities

Sarah is a registered GP and volunteers in Doctors of the World’s clinic.

I have a portfolio career, having worked part time in general practice for the past twenty eight years, first in inner city Edmonton and latterly in leafy Winchmore Hill. My main job is in contraception and sexual health in Barnet.

 

As my children are now grown up I wanted to give something back to the community and working in the Women and Children’s clinic with Doctors of the World fulfils a bit of that need in me.

 

The clients I see are almost always pregnant, having been in the UK undocumented for several years. They have managed to get by with the limited healthcare provision they can source from their friends, or have pharmaceutical items delivered from their families back home in their own countries.

 

Pregnancy, however, means that UK healthcare is essential and in almost all cases, unaffordable. It also means that they have to share their details with authority, facing the anxieties of being deported.

 

They come from all over the country to Doctors of the World’s clinic, having been told about it usually by friends. A lot of the work that the Case Support Workers do is to reassure them as much as possible that their records will not be shared with the Home Office (although with new changes in the law this anxiety may no longer, sadly, unfounded).

 

One young woman I saw recently was in severe distress. She had outstayed her visa from her East African country, because she had told her family she is lesbian. She was denied all contact with her 4 year old daughter in case the child ‘learnt her ways’ and had death threats from her family. She felt that her only option was to stay in the UK, with her partner, in crowded conditions living hand-to-mouth with the little money she could get from child care.

 

These women rely entirely on the good will and knowledge of others who have come to the country before them. If the ‘sponsor’ turns out to be a pimp or abuser, the women are helpless.

 

We try to help our clients when they get to us, to provide them with a more reliable knowledge base, access to primary care, and signposting to legal services where needed. They are living in our communities, unknown and under the radar, without the commodities we take for granted.