Health of asylum seekers and refugees placed in a Reading hotel during the pandemicDownload (PDF 192KB)
Summary of report content
Healthwatch Reading have reported on whether the health and wellbeing needs of asylum seekers and refugees were met during lockdown.
Around 80 asylum seekers/refugees were housed in a hotel in Reading as part of the Home Office’s pandemic response. 43 of them took the time to speak to Healthwatch.
- Many of the people had been living in the hotel since March, after being moved by the Home Office from accommodation in 8 other UK cities or towns, mainly London. Being moved from other parts of the UK had sometimes caused unsafe breaks in usual medication or ongoing treatment e.g. insulin.
- People who spoke to Healthwatch were mostly experiencing dental, pain, insomnia or mental health problems
- A Home Office weekly allowance had been stopped for some, preventing them from buying over-the-counter medication, preferred food, and mobile phone credit
- A mass registration with a local GP surgery only took place approximately 16 weeks after first arrival, but 57% are believed to still not be signed up with a local GP, and their access to free NHS prescriptions and dental care had been delayed in many cases
- Information-sharing between statutory services had been delayed or inadequate, preventing full understanding on who had arrived and left the hotel, and their needs
- Local charities have been filling the gaps to provide support, visits, advice, advocacy and interpretation. Hotel staff also unofficially provide pastoral care.