Vulnerable migrants: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

Certain groups of migrants are particularly vulnerable to potential health needs because of their experiences either before, during or after migration.

Be alert to whether a migrant is subject to vulnerability and be particularly vigilant for potential physical and mental health problems in those who are vulnerable.

Most migrants to the UK come to work or study and are young and healthy. There are however some groups of migrants who may have increased health needs associated with their experiences before, during and after migration.

Groups of vulnerable migrants living in the UK include:

  • asylum seekers and refugees
  • unaccompanied children
  • people who have been trafficked
  • undocumented migrants (those who are living in the UK with no legal status)
  • low paid migrant workers

Be vigilant for potential physical and mental health problems in vulnerable migrants.

Familiarise yourself with vulnerable migrants’ entitlements to NHS care.

Asylum seekers and refugees

The Refugee Council works directly with refugees and asylum seekers and supporting them to rebuild their lives.

The Children’s Society Refugee Toolkit informs practitioners about the needs, rights and entitlements of refugee and asylum seeker young carers and their families.

The Bridges Programmes support the social, educational and economic integration of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants living in Glasgow, Scotland.

Asylum Aid gives free legal advice and represents the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people seeking asylum in the UK with their asylum applications.

Refugee Action provides help and advice for refugees and asylum seekers on a range of issues, including:

  • the asylum process
  • accessing support
  • tackling poverty
  • adjusting to resettlement in the UK

It also provides resources for organisations working with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants across the UK.

Freedom from Torture, works to provide clinical services to survivors of torture who arrive in the UK.

Migrants who have been trafficked

See the human trafficking page.

Forced marriage and honour based violence

See the Forced marriage & honour based violence screening toolkit by Resolution.

Migrant workers

Work Smart supports workers in general which has specific information for migrant workers from the European Union on their rights.

Advice guide for migrant workers from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Advice on the Health and Safety Executive’s website for migrant workers (in over 20 languages).

Pay and work rights helpline is a free and confidential service. The helpline has a free translation service available in over 100 languages.

Kalayaan provides support for migrant domestic workers in the UK.

Migrant sex workers

TAMPEP, the European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers, has developed a wide range of information and educational materials, manuals and publications for sex workers, service providers, sex work projects, and sex work organisations.

Homeless migrants

Homeless Link provides information about homeless migrants, including entitlements to care.

Shelter provides advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers in accessing housing, applying for housing support and benefits from the council and applying for asylum support.

Other resources

Migrant Help offers advice and support to vulnerable migrants in the UK, including asylum seekers, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Doctors of the World offers free and confidential support to vulnerable migrants, whatever their immigration status and wherever they live in the UK. Their drop-in clinic is based in East London.

The Community health inclusion team from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust supports vulnerable people who have difficulty accessing primary care services. Drop-in clinics are run across London.

The Children’s Legal Centre Migrant Children’s Project aims to ensure that refugees, asylum seeking and migrant children are able to obtain the services and assistance to which they are legally entitled.

The Public Health England Inclusion Health: applying All Our Health page has further guidance for health and care professionals on how to improve the health of inclusion health groups (including vulnerable migrants) as part of their everyday practice.

Published 14 August 2017