Asylum seekers and refugees

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This article is a stub. Please feel free to expand it and make it more encyclopaedic.

There is considerable - undeserved - stigma associated with refugee and asylum seeking status, often associated with fears of being overwhelmed, and of changes to society. Such fears are almost entirely unrealistic; but have been played upon and amplified by popularists (and popularist newspapers and other media outlets[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]) over the centuries.

A particularly virulent piece of government propaganda relates to the myth that "health tourism" (people coming to the UK for free treatment on the NHS for conditions they could not get treated at home) costs the NHS a vast amount, depriving people who are entitled to NHS primary or secondary care. In reality - while a handful of such patients exist - the problem is very small, and the costs of the processes put in place to deter people from seeking NHS care (including, in many cases, people who are entitled to treatment) has cost far more than it has saved: its purposes was never (as claimed) to recoup costs from those who should have paid, but to be part of the Home Office'"hostile environment" against migrants. (Supposedly against illegal migrants, but increasingly the policy has affected legal migrants, including even EU citizens who are not migrants to the UK, but citizens legally exercising their treaty rights.)

It is no coincidence that certain newspapers, who have in recent years fulminated against "migrants", blaming them for all the ills of the government's austerity policies, and previously wrote articles about why the UK should not take more Syrian refugees, were previously the same papers that wrote almost identical articles and published very similar cartoons saying that the UK should not take more Jewish people fleeing persecution in Hitler's Germany.[8][9]

While people coming from countries with high rates of particular diseases (eg tuberculosis[10]) or of antimicrobial resistance,[11] can be expected to have rates of those conditions reflecting the rates in the country they came from, in general, asylum seekers and refugees are more likely to have mental health problems or problems associated with injuries sustained as part of their torture, victimisation, or other privations, than to be a risk to the population where they arrive. They are also likely to be relatively young, fit, and (having had the get up and go to get out of their country of origin) the motivation to make a substantial contribution to the society they move to, if they are permitted to do so.

See also

External links


  1. Written evidence submitted by Stop Funding Hate (FNW0091). House of Commons, London: Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Parliamentary Committee, 2017(10 Apr); 1-6 ( (or direct link pdf
  2. Dearden L. The Sun and Daily Mail accused of 'fuelling prejudice' in report on rising racist violence and hate speech in UK. Independent, 2016; Updated 8 October 2016; Accessed: 2017 (19 October): (
  3. Harmsworth HS. Hurrah for the Blackshirts. Daily Mail 1934 (
  4. De Cruz H. Know your place: explaining the xenophobia at work in Brexit. Medium, 2018; Updated 01 February 2018; Accessed: 2018 (01 February): (
  5. Oliver D. David Oliver: Health tourism, immigration, and the NHS. BMJ 2018;361, DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k2536 (
  6. Heffer G. PM immigration policies viewed in Whitehall as 'almost like Nazi Germany'. Sky News, 2018; Updated 19 Apr 2018; Accessed: 2018 (19 Nov): (
  7. Demianyk G. Exclusive: Government Accused Of 'Scaremongering' Over Migrant NHS Fraud. Huffpost UK, 2018; Updated 25 Nov 2018; Accessed: 2018 (27 Nov): (
  8. Fry S. 'Putrid' Daily Mail lambasted by Stephen Fry. Updated (unstated); Accessed: 2017 (14 December): (
  9. Philpot R. How Britain’s Nazi-loving press baron made the case for Hitler. The Times of Israel, 2018; Updated 05 Aug 2018; Accessed: 2018 (19 Nov): (
  10. Public Health England. Tuberculosis by country: rates per 100,000 people. Public Health England, 2015; Updated 09 Oct 2018; Accessed: 2018 (07 Dec): (
  11. Aro T, Kantele A. High rates of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among asylum seekers and refugees admitted to Helsinki University Hospital, 2010 to 2017. Euro Surv 2018;23(45):1700797, DOI: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.45.1700797 (
  12. Burnett A, Ndovi T. The health of forced migrants. BMJ 2018;363, DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k4200 (
  13. Kings Fund. Reading list: Refugee health care. London: The Kings Fund, 2012 (April); 1-22
  14. Abubakar I, Aldridge RW, Devakumar D, Orcutt M, Burns R, Barreto ML, et al. The UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Health: the health of a world on the move. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32114-7 (
  15. Miliband D, Tessema MT. The unmet needs of refugees and internally displaced people. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32780-6 (
  16. Ammar W. Migration and health: human rights in the era of populism. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32617-5 (
  17. Arbour L. Historic global agreement on migration. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32753-3 (
  18. Clark J, Horton R. Opening up to migration and health. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32935-0 (
  19. Wickramage K, Annunziata G. Advancing health in migration governance, and migration in health governance. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32855-1 (
  20. Picard A. Louise Arbour: champion of international law. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)33106-4 (
  21. Lane R. Bernadette Nirmal Kumar: making migrant health mainstream. Lancet 2018, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32936-2 (
  22. Docs Not Cops, Medact, Migrants Organise. Patients Not Passports: A toolkit designed to support you in advocating for people facing charges for NHS care, and in taking action to end immigration checks and upfront charging in the NHS. Patients Not Passports, 2018; Updated; Accessed: 2018 (20 Dec): (
  23. British Medical Association. Access to health care for asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers – guidance for doctors. London: BMA, 2012.