Health of asylum seekers and refugees placed in a Reading hotel during the pandemic

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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.

Key Findings:

  • 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.
Healthwatch Reading are recommending a more cohesive approach to meeting the needs of people living in temporary accommodation due to the pandemic.

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General details

Report title 
Health of asylum seekers and refugees placed in a Reading hotel during the pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Reading
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 17 November, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 24 July, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 25 September, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Health and safety
Health inequalities
Health protection
Holistic support
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Other information of note about this report 
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Community pharmacy
Dentist (non-hospital)
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Mental health recovery service
Psychiatry / mental health (other services)
Social care services 
Adult social care
Community services 

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 
Diabetes and other endocrinal, nutriotional and metabolic conditions
Oral and dental health

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Not known
Mixed / multiple ethnic groups
Other population characteristics 
Refugees or asylum seekers
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Is there evidence of impact in the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.