The refugee community and access to health and wellbeing services in Lewisham

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Lewisham held a focus group with refugees from the Chinese and African communities, in 2016, gathering their views on health services in Lewisham. This work was done as part of an engagement programme on the access of minority communities to health services in Lewisham. The report identified a number of key issues. Booking GP appointments was difficult, particularly when a child needs to be seen by a GP. Many respondents went to A&E as a result of not having access to a GP. The length of GP appointments was also seen as short, not sufficient or patients were dismissed to raise all health concerns during the appointment. Staff attitude was also an issue. GP were seen as ‘not good listeners’, while receptions were seen as ‘rude’. Seeing different GPs for the same issue or patient was also problematic. A&E and ambulance services were generally dismissive of the respondents’ calls or concerns when they attempted the services. Translation services were of good quality and available whenever it was needed, with some respondents had access to face-to-face translation which was valuable. There was interest in increasing access to psychological therapy, and providing annual health checks for refugees. The report made the following recommendations: • Improve access to GP services including improving access to urgent appointments and improving booking systems. Consideration should be given to refugees, people with communication barriers and children. • Make appointments with a named GP more readily available. • Increase the length of appointments where necessary to allow safe and effective diagnosis and treatment. • Improve staff attitudes towards patients by increasing the emphasis on listening to the patient, and by taking time to understand the community members. • Provide appropriate training for front line reception staff and clinical staff to enable improved communication, cultural awareness and health inequalities faced by minority groups and refugees. • Increase the provision of information for seldom heard groups including the refugees on provision of and access to local services.

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General details

Report title 
The refugee community and access to health and wellbeing services in Lewisham
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Lewisham
Date of publication 
Sunday, 1 May, 2016
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 31 December, 2015
Type of report 
Patient experience
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Quality of treatment
Staff attitudes
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

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

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Urgent care services
Community services 
Continuing care

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
25-64 years
Asian / Asian British
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
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? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to 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.