Law Centre (NI) saves asylum seekers from legal limbo

Tuesday, June 16th 2015

Law Centre (NI) has helped bring about a change in provisions that will allow destitute asylum seekers in Northern Ireland access to free primary healthcare. 

The other countries of the United Kingdom already allow such access, mainly to GPs. However, in Northern Ireland uncertainty about the entitlements of refused asylum seekers remained, and they were only allowed access to emergency medical help. This resulted in migrants being denied prescription medication and their children being denied vaccinations.

This situation has as only been resolved now, helped along by public policy work from the Law Centre, the Red Cross and others. The change in health regulations now means that destitute asylum seekers could access healthcare at the most appropriate level.

This is also set to save the local healthcare system valuable resources: migrants will no longer need to wait until their health deteriorates only to seek urgent medical attention at A&E departments, where it is most expensive.

The good news is timely, coming as Northern Ireland, along with the rest of the world, celebrates Refugee Week. Congratulations! 

Click here for a report on the BBC News website. 

Click here to hear Law Centre spokeswoman Liz Griffiths on BBC Radio Ulster's 'Good Morning Ulster' (at 1m 43s; at 1hr 34 min 30 seconds; and at roughly 2hrs 07mins).

Click here to hear Liz Griffiths on BBC Radio Ulster's 'Talkback' programme (from 7m40s).