Many people living in the UK find it impossible to access mainstream health services, despite being fully entitled to them, due to fear, not knowing the system, having to pay charges or being wrongly turned away by frontline healthcare staff.

Our clinic in Bethnal Green offers primary care and health and social advice from volunteer doctors, nurses and support workers for excluded people including asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, homeless people and sex workers.

As well as providing healthcare, we register those who are facing barriers with their local GP. In 2016 we supported 1,906 people to access the NHS and 91 per cent of our service users had their cases resolved.

We also offer screening, vital for public health, and we signpost to other services, including housing advice, destitution support and specialist counselling.

We run a fortnightly specialist service to meet the particular needs of women and children.

Bethnal Green clinic

Our first UK clinic in Bethnal Green has been running since 2006 and is now open three days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Here volunteer GPs and nurses offer medical check-ups and STI screenings while case workers give advice and try to get people registered with their local GP. We also provide monthly TB screenings, in partnership with University College London Hospital’s “Find and Treat” team and sexual health screening in partnership with Barts Health.

We run a women’s and children’s clinic here on the first and third Tuesday of every month.

Pop-up clinics

To reach excluded people who don’t or can’t come to our clinics, in 2015 we started a pilot programme sending medics to treat patients at other organisations that help vulnerable migrants across London. These “pop-up clinics” saw people at the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, the Notre Dame Refugee Centre, and Justice for Domestic Workers and there are plans to expand into a fully mobile clinic with a customised vehicle.

The issues

In 2016:

  • 94% of patients visiting the clinic had experienced difficulties accessing healthcare
  • 89% were not registered with a GP
  • 87% were living in poverty

How we helped

In 2016:

  • 1906 patients were provided with access to the NHS
  • 923 people on low income were given access to free medication
  • 104 people were given access to a dentist
  • 42 patients were sent immediately to A&E
  • 131 pregnant women were helped, of which 107 were seen at our Women and Children's Clinic.