Health trusts accused of discrimination

HEALTH bosses were today accused of “institutional discrimination” against refugees and asylum seekers after attempting to make sweeping cuts to a service provided for them.

HEALTH bosses were today accused of “institutional discrimination” against refugees and asylum seekers after attempting to make sweeping cuts to a service provided for them.

The Ipswich and Suffolk Commission for Racial Equality (ISCRE) claimed hundreds face the prospect of losing a vital health service as NHS bosses demand massive changes to the Suffolk Community Refugee Team (SCRT).

The SCRT, based on St Helen's Street, is a one-stop health shop where people can go to get help and advice with all their health needs. However, ISCRE today said health chiefs are demanding a 50 per cent reduction in the staff and services.

Gita Banerji, ISCRE's race equality officer, said: “We do not consider it likely that refugees in Suffolk, under the proposed cuts, would receive an equal level of service to that provided to the majority culture.


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“This means that the proposed cutbacks in this area amount to institutional discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers.”

The PCT's plans will effectively change the SCRT from it from its current status as a one-stop health shop for refugees into a team aiming to support GPs' practices to meet the health needs of refugees.

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ISCRE said this will place immense pressure on GPs as they struggle to cope with approximately 450 new asylum seekers each year, as well as preventing displaced people from accessing important services like specialist counselling for victims of torture.

Ms Banerji said: “I hope the PCT will reconsider its plans, but even if it doesn't, I think it is important to ensure the plight of this vulnerable section of society is not overlooked in the furore resulting from the health cuts.”

Jeremy Peters, spokesman for the Suffolk East PCTs, said: “We would disagree with the claims that have been made.

“The service will be retained, however, following an operational review we are redesigning the service to ensure it operates at an appropriate level.”

Mr Peters said the review would have been carried out regardless of the financial situation.

What do you think about the cuts? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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