A patient is seen at Doctors of the World's drop in clinic in Bethnal Green, London.

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 no fixed address, having to pay charges or being wrongly turned away by frontline healthcare staff.

Our services include our clinic, adviceline and outreach work offering primary care and health and social advice from volunteer doctors, nurses and support workers for excluded people such as asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, homeless people, and sex workers. In 2022, we supported over 2,000 people. Over 90% of those we help are successfully supported to register with a GP.

We also signpost our patients to other services, including housing advice, destitution support and specialist counselling

Women and Children’s Clinic

Due to increasing demand, we now run our Women and Children’s clinic every week on a Tuesday. The clinic provides vital services to women and children, offering obstetric checks, health assessments, and STI screenings. Our volunteers also help with antenatal referrals and ensure women know their rights around accessing care.

Whilst all pregnant women in the UK are entitled to antenatal care without upfront charging, many receive a bill (of at least £7,000) during their pregnancy. Fear of such a bill discourages many pregnant women from accessing healthcare, an issue exacerbated by the vulnerable circumstances many of our patients live in and the traumatic experiences they have encountered.

Hospital Access Project

In 2015, the UK government introduced a new system to charge people not resident in the UK for NHS hospital services, and in 2017, charges were extended to NHS community services (apart from primary or GP care and drug services). Since then, we have been contacted by increasing numbers of people who have been denied access to NHS services for the diagnosis and treatment of serious health conditions, such as cancer, renal failure or tumours, denied treatment until their conditions become life-threatening, or denied access to NHS community services (such as treatment for mental health conditions).

At Doctors of the World, we are committed to ensuring that healthcare is never wrongly denied for the patients we serve and that patients with serious health conditions are able to access the care they need. We have a project dedicated to advocating consistently and powerfully on behalf of our patients to hospitals and NHS trusts where immediately necessary or urgent care has been denied and have built an established track record of successful outcomes for our patients.

If you or someone you know needs support with accessing hospital treatment or navigating NHS charges, please get in touch via casework@doctorsoftheworld.org.uk


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