AVID Training
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Navigating Healthcare in Detention: Your Rights and Resources

While in detention, you are entitled to receive proper medical care tailored to your needs, preserving your fundamental human right. However, cases of inadequate healthcare have been reported to AVID and our members. This guide aims to empower people in detention to understand and secure your rights.

In each detention centre the healthcare providers are different, depending on who has the contract in that facility.

NHS England has the responsibility to appoint these healthcare providers, except in Dungavel IRC, where the provider is chosen by the Home Office.

Your Healthcare Basics:

  1. Access to Healthcare: You are entitled to healthcare that meets your needs, akin to community standards. Different detention centres have varied healthcare providers, appointed by NHS England (except Dungavel IRC, where the Home Office makes the choice).
  2. Initial Examination: Within 24 hours of arrival, you should undergo a physical and mental examination by a General Practitioner (GP).  If
request [1].
  3. Independent Doctor: You can request to see an independent doctor, but you may have to cover the costs of this yourself.
  4. Gender-Specific Care: Women in detention have the right to request a female doctor.
  5. Confidentiality: All medical records are confidential and must be treated as such. The GP in the centre will access your previous medical records if available in the UK and must forward these if you are released from detention or transferred to another centre.
  6. Medication Administration: If you are on specific medication when you arrive, this may be taken from you. If this happens it will be administered to you by medical staff.
  7. Complaints Procedure: If dissatisfied with healthcare, discuss it with the doctor, healthcare manager, or write to the Home Office. You can also talk to the Independent Monitoring Board in your centre, or write to them. If you have a volunteer visitor or a solicitor you may want to discuss it with them also.
  8. Safeguards: Certain individuals should only be detained in exceptional circumstances, because they are recognised by the Home Office as being vulnerable to harm in detention. These groups are set out in the Adults at Risk Policy[2]. If you fall into one of these categories or if you are ‍at risk of harm because of your     ongoing detention for another reason, this should be alerted to the Home Office by the detention centre healthcare team through a process called Rule 35 (or Rule 32 if you are in a Residential Short-Term Holding Facility.)

Medical Justice:

Medical Justice, a charity championing healthcare rights in detention, provides independent medical advice through a team of dedicated staff and volunteer doctors.  Medical Justice supports people who have experienced torture and/or who have health problems (including mental health problems) which are deteriorating in detention. They can help by providing an independent healthcare assessment, raising concerns to the healthcare teams in detention centres, and writing medical reports. People in detention can self-refer or volunteer visitors can make a referral for your via their online form.

Advocacy for Friends and Visitors:

Friends and visitors can access this information to advocate for people in detention. Please stay informed about the rights and healthcare procedures for people in detention to ensure the wellbeing of your loved ones in detention.

Remember, your right to proper healthcare should not be compromised during detention. Empower yourself with knowledge and seek support when needed.


[1] The UK Government, The Detention Centre Rules (2001) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2001/238/introduction

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adults-at-risk-in-immigration-detention

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