Health care

United Kingdom

Country Report: Health care Last updated: 24/04/24


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The entitlement to health care is not affected in law for refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection but in practice there can be difficulties. Although not required in law, registering with a GP practice for primary care often asks for proof of address; if a refugee has moved from asylum support accommodation it may be difficult to obtain this.[1]

Specialist medical support for refugees is patchy; waiting list for mental health services for the population in general in England in particular can be long.[2] The issues in practice are very similar for refugees to those faced by asylum seekers, despite the difference in status (see Reception conditions – Healthcare).

The Advocacy Forum, a group of Refugee led Community Organisations supported by the Refugee Council, published research in 2022 examining the barriers to integration by refugees and people seeking asylum living in London. Refugees reported challenges in integration in areas of employment and housing in particular and many were experiencing mental ill health and worryingly, not accessing appropriate treatment.[3]




[1] Healthwatch, ‘Registering with your GP: understanding your rights’, 4 October 2023, available at:

[2] National Audit Office, Progress in improving mental health services in England, 9 February 2023, available at:

[3] Refugee Council, ‘Going Full Circle: The primary needs and experiences of refugees and people seeking asylum living in London’, July 2022, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection