Asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants

The RCGP supports the WONCA Europe 2015 Istanbul Statement that said

Refugees should have access to equitable, affordable and high-quality health care services in all Europe. Read the full statement at the WONCA website.

Any refugee problems in the UK are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effects of the refugee crisis on children and adults across Europe, as well as further afield in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Sixty-five million people are displaced by violence or armed conflicts, with 21 million living outside their country of origins, 50% are from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Many UK general practices struggle to manage the rights and needs of refugees and asylum seekers to access the NHS, and may be unwilling to register them as patients because of confusion about the need for identification papers and other documentation.

The RCGP gets many requests about how GPs can help refugees and asylum seekers. This is a difficult problem and this advice aims only to provide some practical guidance for GPs who want to know and/or do more about helping these vulnerable people. Clearly there is still much more that could be said and done.

Currently the RCGP is actively reviewing how it can support members to deliver excellent healthcare to these vulnerable groups and how it can work within the health care community to advocate for system-wide improvements in the care of refugees and asylum seekers.

This is a work in progress - please send your suggestions for changes and improvements to

There is a glossary of terminology relating to asylum seekers and refugees in UK at the Refugee Council website

Organisations that work with refugees 

Doctors of the World

In the UK, they run clinic and advocacy programmes in London and Brighton that provide medical care, information and practical support to excluded people such as destitute migrants, sex workers and people with no fixed address. The Doctors of the World network has more than 400 programmes in over 80 countries. Whether it’s providing urgent medical care in Ukraine, giving mental healthcare to refugees in Calais, or strengthening health systems in west Africa, to meet the health needs of vulnerable people globally. They have training courses available. See the useful resources page. These are being updated to include more bespoke information for GP practices.

Faculty of Homeless

An independent, multi-disciplinary body focused on health care for homeless and excluded people.

Freedom from Torture

Medical Foundation for the Care for the Victims of Torture.

Healthcare Information For All HIFA

A worldwide virtual network open to all health professionals advocating for access to health information for all.

Help Refugees

Is the largest distributors of aid of any grassroots organisation across Europe, funding projects in 22 Refugee camps in Greece as well as camps and settlements in Paris, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.


Is a charity for health professionals and others working to improve health worldwide. It conducts research and analysis., campaigns and lobbies, educates and informs.

Medecins Sans Frontieres MSF

Its medical teams act fast to save people’s lives in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics. They go where they are needed most.

Physicians for Human Rights

PHR exists to stop mass atrocities (crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes) and acts that cause severe physical or mental harm to individuals.

Public Health England (previously Health Protection Agency’s) Migrant Health Guide ( Health Protection Agency, 2011)

This offers country-specific information for health professionals, information on migrants ’ NHS entitlements, as well as translated patient information
or environmental changes.


Is an international humanitarian NGO which supports aid organisations and other humanitarian actors across the world by developing skills and providing expertise. We act to ensure disaster-prone communities are resilient by giving them practical life-saving skills, advice and support, which help them prepare for, respond to and recover from natural and man-made disasters.

Refugee Action

Signposts to all the different ways you can help (25 ways you can help refugees). It provides help and advice for refugees and asylum seekers on issues including the asylum process and how to access support.

Support and advice for refugees and asylum seekers struggling with the asylum process, poverty and homelessness.
Practical support and guidance for people who are resettling in the UK having fled conflict and persecution, and Local Authorities who are participating in Resettlement schemes.

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund

Refugee Doctors – retraining in the UK.  If you are a refugee doctor retraining to practise medicine in the UK, and you are registered with a formally accepted RMBF programme partner, we may be able to help with a one off award. 

Royal Society of Medicine

Has a section on global medine and also cover issues regarding humanitarian issues like the effects of conflict and catastrophe on the health of children.

Safe Passage

Exists to help unaccompanied child refugees and vulnerable adults in Europe find safe, legal routes to the UK. There are programmes in Calais, Greece and Italy. When clients arrive in the UK, we support their transition to a new life.Safe Passage is powered by Citizens UK – a group that empowers community action. We combine the skills and resources of our staff and supporters to open doors, establish precedent and advocate for change.

We are determined to find a way to give everyone fleeing persecution safe passage. 

Still Human Still Here

Is a 8yr old coalition of 80 organisations that support asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. Its members include City Councils, OXFAM, the Children's Society, Amnesty International, Citizens Advice Bureau, Homeless Link, Crisis, Doctors of the World, National Aids Trust, Mind, the British Red Cross, a range of faith based organisations and all the main agencies working with refugees in the UK.

Still Human has worked closely with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to communicate member agencies' concerns about the impact that charging for healthcare has on vulnerable groups and is particularly worried about the impact the Government's proposals to extend charging to primary, A&E and other services will have on asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable people. 

Tropical Health and Education Trust

Put health workers at the heart of our work. Forging partnerships with healthcare experts to deliver targeted training programmes in low and middle income countries.

UN Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. We work with partners to integrate qualified, highly motivated and well supported UN Volunteers into development programming and promote the value and global recognition of volunteerism.

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

Volunteer doctors are urgently required in 24 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.


Please help RCGP keep this information up to date by sending corrections and suggestions to 

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