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No Pasaran Youth against Racism in Europe magazine: Issue 11, Summer 2003
How prejudice against asylum-seekers is being encouraged
Case study: Stoke-on-Trent
This material is taken from the YREís anti-racist education pack on migration & refugees. This will be published later this year. For more information, or any comments, please contact the YRE office.
'Widow, 88 told by GP: make way for asylum seekers'
ĎAn ailing war widow has been dropped by her doctor - so that he can treat asylum seekers instead.
'Lydia Perry, 88, has been told that she is no longer welcome at the surgery she has attended all her life because GPs have been ordered to give priority to residents of a nearby refugee centre . . .
'The revelation is bound to intensify Britain's asylum crisis - and demonstrate how an influx of refugees is placing an intolerable strain on public services.'
The Mail on Sunday, 19 January 2003
ĎThe pensioner's daughter, Maureen Currell . . . said she blamed the system of having too few doctors in the city - and that was not the fault of nursing home residents, asylum seekers or individual GPs.
'She said: "thankfully, mum has now got a new doctor in Hanley. Her old doctor, Dr Uday Pathak, was wonderful and we do not blame him.
'"We sympathise with his plight - he has an impossibly high workload. He told us he needed to take this action because he was having to take in old folk from a home but added that he would soon have to register some asylum seekers too.
'"This is not the fault of either the home or the asylum seekers. The real problem lies with too few doctors being trained and not enough working in the areas of highest workload."'
The Sentinel, 20th and 21st January 2003
The health campaigner
'In Stoke we are desperately short of GPs and we have been for a long time. Stoke is a deprived area with higher rates of ill-health: in the 1980s a World Health Organisation survey called Stoke-on-Trent "sick city" because of the high incidence of cancers, heart problems and chronic respiratory diseases. Most of these are linked to the mining industry, the steel industry and especially the pottery in, where the dust causes huge health problems.'
'In the funding system which passes extra money for healthcare from central government to deprived areas, until recently Stoke was consistently getting 3-4% below the level that it should receive. Then when asylum-seekers have been dispersed around the country, the way that the National Asylum Support Service works means that money doesn't necessarily follow individual asylum-seekers.
'Access to basic services like healthcare is a human right and essential for asylum-seekers, who have often suffered torture and are traumatised by their experiences. But the way that NASS operates means that the funding to ensure that basic services can cope with even a small increase in demand often isn't there.'
Ian Sym, co-ordinator of North Staffordshire Health Watch, January 2003
What the YRE thinks
With not enough resources being put into healthcare, doctors are often forced to make impossible decisions about who to treat and who not to treat, whether or not there are asylum-seekers coming into an area.
Enough resources should be put into healthcare to provide doctors and healthcare for everybody. When new patients (for example asylum-seekers or people in care homes) need to be provided for, the local healthcare system (GPs, hospitals etc) should be given extra money to make sure that no-one is left without a doctor or medical treatment that they need. Blaming asylum-seekers, or any other group of patients, won't help get more money, doctors or equipment for the health service. Communities should unite to campaign for investment in healthcare so that everyone can have a doctor and good medical care.
Often asylum-seekers are dumped in the poorest, most neglected areas, with little or no explanation about why they have come. Local people, who are already struggling to survive, can see asylum-seekers as an extra burden or as competition for the existing resources. But the problems that exist would still be here even if there was nobody claiming asylum.
Where is all the money?
There are plenty of resources in Britain: it is the fourth richest country in the world. But Britain spends less of its money on public services than many other European countries: public spending in the UK is around 38% of Gross National Product (Britain's total economic production) compared to 48% in Germany, 50% in Italy and 54% in France.
While resources and public services in Britain's poorest communities are stretched, Britainís wealthiest 1000 people own more than £108 billion in assets. Britain also has one of the biggest divides between the rich and the poor in the world. The richest 1% in Britain own almost 20% of the wealth while the bottom 50% own just 7%.
Copyright YRE 2003