Access to a GP

People in the asylum system or with insecure immigration status have found themselves even further out of the system, often living without information or support, in crowded accommodation and living in extreme poverty with no access to food.

Our daily helpline has supported hundreds of people through this time, giving advice on Covid, getting them registered with their local GP for essential healthcare, having remote consultations with our GPs for urgent problems and receiving prescription medication.  We have helped people who don’t have access to any money or food during this time to get connected with their local support and food banks.

Grace called the advice line very worried as she found a lump on her breast. She is not registered with the GP and does not understand how to register with one due to the language barrier.

DOTW arranged a phone consultation with our GP on the same day, found a GP where she can register and helped to complete the online registration form.

Due to Grace concerning symptoms, DOTW GP liaised with the GP surgery and managed to arrange an urgent appointment for the following day.

Mary called the advice line seeking support to register with a GP and access antenatal care. She tried to register with a GP but was told that due to Covid 19 the registration was closed. Mary was very anxious about Covid infection and pregnancy, so we offered a phone consultation with our GP who provided her with advice. Furthermore, we supported Mary to fill the antenatal self-referral with a hospital in London and registered her with her local GP.  DOTW caseworkers will continue to provide Mary with phone support until she has the baby. 

Haider is an asylum seeker with experience of violence and torture that we had previously helped to find a GP. He had been surviving by sofa surfing and sleeping out on the street.

During the lockdown he found himself completely homeless after his friend asked him to leave. He was provided with accommodation by his local council, but contacted us because had no food or money.

We contacted local mutual aid groups and community groups who helped with emergency provisions, have referred him to a foodbank for support with food and have referred him to appropriate organisations to help him access the government support he is entitled to.

Angela in the process of applying for permanent status in UK, and has multiple long term health conditions that make her vulnerable to severe illness from Covid-19. She is unable to access benefits. She had not been registered with a GP for four years.

While supporting her to register with a GP she told us she didn’t have any food, just a bowl of cereal left to eat. She had previously been surviving wit help from friends and a small amount from her hospital social work team which has stopped during the outbreak.

We contacted local mutual aid groups to ensure she had emergency provisions, and referred her to her local foodbank for  support.

Access to Hospital care

For some people accessing hospital care is already difficult and has been made more challenging during this time whilst the NHS is under pressure.  We have been supporting them to speak to hospitals to make sure the essential care they need is still provided.

Ying has been living in the UK for 15 years, but recently moved to a different city and had not yet registered with a GP. She could not speak any English.

She called DOTW with pain in her chest, but found it difficult to speak to 111 and also did not want to go to the hospital as she didn’t think her symptoms we very serious.

We arranged a remote appointment with a volunteer clinician, who advised her to attend her local A&E as soon as possible. She was diagnosed with a serious virus and was admitted into the hospital straight away.

Supporting vulnerable pregnant women and children

Sarah who was seven-months pregnant called our helpline for help to access antenatal care. She had to move from Luton to London, as the friend she was staying with had symptoms of Covid-19. She didn’t want to risk the health of her unborn child. She moved in with another friend in London and we supported her to find a new GP and transfer her antenatal care, which is often very difficult if you don’t have a permanent address.


With your support, Doctors of the World will make sure nobody suffers or dies due to lack of access to healthcare.