Doctors of the World launches new clinic for people in vulnerable circumstances
Published 16th October 2019
The new Doctors of the World Clinic in east London was launched today. After 16 years of work in the area, our clinical services have now moved to purpose built premises which will allow our volunteer doctors and caseworkers to support more patients than ever.
It is imperative that we are able to see more patients and scale up our services, as we estimate that between 50,000 and 500,000 people in the UK need us. These are patients who have been too frightened to go to see a doctor because they are scared that they will be deported by the Home Office, that their data will be shared, and that they will face bills of thousands of pounds which they simply can’t afford. Often, they are wrongfully turned away by frontline healthcare staff, and some simply don’t know how the system works.
Many of our patients won’t have seen a doctor for years, often waiting until it’s too late. Common conditions, if left untreated for extended periods, might become difficult to cure and are potentially life threatening. On average, our patients have been living here for over six years, and often have not been able to receive healthcare anywhere else.
These delays are also harmful for their physical and mental health, and might have repercussions on public health and treatment costs.
Fortune was born in Uganda, where he lived as a gay man in a country where homosexuality is illegal. He escaped persecution and fled to the UK, but still felt he had to hide his sexuality which led to crippling headaches and inexplicable pains. Feeling at his lowest point, he came to our clinic.
“The kind of care I received is something I had never experienced,” he says. “They are just kind, lovely people”. We helped Fortune to register with a GP, who diagnosed severe depression.
The London Clinic is at the heart of what we do in the UK. Volunteer doctors, nurses and caseworker provide essential care and support to children, women, and men who have fled conflict and discrimination, or escaped torture, exploitation, and poverty. Many of them now live under the radar, in unstable accommodation, and struggle to survive, often homeless and living below the poverty line.
Our volunteer doctors and nurses provide medical consultations for these patients, while our caseworkers help them register to see a GP so that they can see a doctor in the future. We campaign to ensure everyone can access the healthcare they need.
We spend many hours in the clinic persuading people who are very sick or heavily pregnant that the risk of not accessing the healthcare they need outweighs their fears of the Hostile Environment.
Since opening in 1998, we have directly helped almost 20,000 people in the UK. This new clinic will provide new opportunities for our patients and volunteers, allowing to provide more holistic care to our patients in need.