Refugees, vulnerable migrants and health: implications for primary care education

Talk Code: 
Anita Berlin, Ann Smalldridge, Ceri Butler
Author institutions: 
Queen Mary University London

Symposium Summary

This symposium explores integrating refugees and vulnerable migrants in primary care education and training from different perspectives. We present examples from undergraduate and postgraduate sectors and explore opportunities for medical students and refugee health professionals by developing new roles and models of learning and service delivery in primary care. 

These presentations address different aspects of education and training in primary care. They start with examples from two medical schools in London then move on to look at a new model of training for primary care in the North West before looking critically at the challenges facing primary care and how we might alleviate those.  Altogether this symposium will draw together individuals and organisations that have been working to embed refugee/vulnerable migrant health professionals into mainstream medical education and training in London, Manchester and more widely for more than fifteen years.   Intended audience Primary care educators and educational researchers  Clinicians and learners in all primary care settings Researchers interested in a range of topics including (but not limited to): workforce development, health inequalities, employment of excluded and marginalised groups, integration of excluded and marginalised groups.  Plans for discussion There will be opportunities for discussion after each of the three presentations. A live twitter discussion will also be facilitated by presenters with questions able to be posted on twitter.

Presentation 1 - Medical students on access to healthcare for refugees and excluded migrants

Presenters: Prof Anita Berlin (1) & Pooja Seta (2) Isa Owehand (2)

Institutions:(1) Community Based Medical Education Unit, Institute for Health Sciences Education, Queen Mary University of London (2) Student Barts and the London Medical School, Institute for Health Sciences Education, Queen Mary University of London


Restricted access to healthcare for vulnerable migrants (refugees, asylum seekers, survivors of trafficking, slavery and torture, and the undocumented) presents challenges for primary care teams. This has implications for students on GP placements. In this presentation a medical student and a GP educator describe case studies and a co-designed practice-based service learning project aimed at improving recognition of vulnerable migrants, understanding patient rights, and health professional responsibilities. We aim to stimulate debate on how to prepare students to be stewards of a universal health system that caters for the most vulnerable, and their potential role as policy advocates.

Presentation 2 - Supporting refugee doctors into training posts in the NHS

Presenter:Dr Ann Smalldridge

Institution: REACHE North West, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust


Refugee and Asylum Seeker Centre for Healthcare Professionals Education North West (REACHE) has supported 196 refugee doctors back into work in the NHS since 2003. Just under half are in Specialist or GP Training or substantive posts. Refugee doctors are at a disadvantage competing for NHS training posts for many reasons.  This presentation will describe a partnership programme that has been established to provide educational opportunities to reduce these barriers, support entry to GP and specialist training as well as reduce costs for the Trust.

Presentation 3 - New models of working in the primary care: opportunities for refugee professionals.

Presenter: Ceri Butler

Institution: Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London


Over the last 20 years, there have been a number of initiatives to support refugee and vulnerable migrants to use their clinical skills and training in the UK. This is not only a moral but economic imperative as the NHS faces increasing challenges in meeting health care demands, increasing capacity and developing new flexible models of working to meet changing service needs. This presentation explores the opportunities that new and advanced clinical roles afford to the NHS and how refugee health professionals may help us to deliver a more sustainable model of primary care.

Submitted by: 
Anita Berlin