Health and access to health care of migrants in the UK

Author(s): Hiranthi Jayaweera;  

Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 19

Publisher: Race Equality Foundation

Publication date: May 2010

Downloads:

Updates:

 Health and access to health care of migrants in the UK
Share this

The growing size and diversity of the proportion of the UK population who were born overseas have important implications for meeting health needs and for planning and delivering health services. By bringing together available evidence, this briefing outlines some important issues for the health of migrants in the UK today. It also suggests ways in which research, policy and practice might address barriers to health, well-being and health care in meeting the needs of migrants.

Key messages:

  • The growing size and diversity of the proportion of the UK population who were born overseas have important implications for meeting health needs and for planning and delivering health services
  • As part of a commitment to reducing inequalities in access and in health outcomes, government policy has focused largely on addressing ethnic inequalities in health. Less emphasis has been placed on the possible impact for migrants of factors such as country of birth, language and length of residence and immigration status in the UK
  • Although there is some research focus on the health needs of specific groups of migrants, such as refugees and asylum seekers, there have been relatively few attempts to gather evidence on health outcomes, needs, care and barriers to care of broader categories of migrants, including those who come to study, to work or for family reasons, and more established groups
  • There is particular evidence of barriers to health care arising from restricted entitlement for some vulnerable migrants. Political concern over ‘health tourism’ negatively affects the delivery of, and access to, health care for migrants. These issues require further research and the implementation of specific policies and good practice.

Sections:

  • The size and diversity of the UK population born overseas
  • The need to move beyond a limited focus on ethnic inequalities in health
  • Evidence on the health of migrants
  • Entitlement to free health care