NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is celebrating achieving the status of ‘CCG of Sanctuary’ during Refugee Week 2021 (14-20 June). On Wednesday, 16 June, the CCG became the first commissioning organisation in the country to be awarded the accreditation from the City of Sanctuary UK.
The City of Sanctuary UK supports the development of groups including towns, cities, universities, and healthcare organisations which welcome people fleeing violence and persecution. Sanctuary status confirms that Hull CCG has a fundamental commitment to support refugees and asylum seekers when accessing healthcare services.
Hull CCG has a long tradition of working with migrant, refugee, and vulnerable populations, appreciating health and social difficulties these groups may face when accessing healthcare. An important part of the project is raising awareness and understanding among the frontline staff about the physical and mental health needs of migrants and asylum seekers and ensuring our local services in Hull are welcoming and responsive.
Dr Dan Roper, Chair, NHS Hull CCG, said: “When the Sanctuary organisation approached us to become the first CCG of Sanctuary in the country, we thought it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the great services that we provide locally. Our city already has strong links with the movement. The CCG is proud to sit alongside Hull City of Sanctuary and the Hull University of Sanctuary. Celebrating our achievement during Refugee Week 2021 makes it even more special.
“This project is very much about addressing health inequalities. It is a part of a wider issue that we’ve been working on over the last few years to improve local healthcare services for refugees and asylum seekers and for everyone who may face barriers when accessing healthcare. The affiliation with the City of Sanctuary ensures that everyone registered with a GP in Hull has access to top-quality healthcare.”
Abdul Raman, CCG of Sanctuary panel member, with lived experience of seeking sanctuary, said:
“Being part of the panel has been excellent as I felt well involved, informed, and my suggestions were taken into careful consideration to improve or establish services. The work that has been done so far shows the effort that has been put into it and to see the amazing ideas coming to life is brilliant. I feel proud to be part of the panel.
“As I have experienced it first-hand myself, healthcare staff having access to this training will make the experience a lot more comfortable and less stressful for refugees and asylum seekers. Refugees and asylum seekers come from different countries, cultures, races, languages and obviously carry with them potential mental health issues caused by the problems which led them to seek asylum. Healthcare staff having a good understanding of this will make a huge difference on individual’s well-being.”
Steve Ibbetson, Chair, Hull City of Sanctuary, said:
“I am delighted to welcome the award of CCG of Sanctuary to NHS Hull CCG. Healthcare is a basic human need, one which has been brought home to us all in the last 18 months of the pandemic.
“I feel this award recognises the long-standing determination of the health sector to meet the health needs of the whole population of the region, including the complex challenges presented by new arrivals to the area escaping the trauma of war and persecution.
“It was the CCG as health commissioners, in partnership with the City Council, who stepped up to the plate in setting up services for refugees and people seeking asylum. Crucially, this included enabling access to these services through the Interpretation and Translation Service.
“Therefore, I see the award to the NHS Hull CCG as building upon the excellent work of the past and a promise to the future.”
Siân Summers-Rees Chief Officer for City of Sanctuary UK said:
“We are delighted to award NHS Hull CCG after a Sanctuary Awards Assessment which included people with lived experience and local voluntary sector organisations. We are impressed by their team’s commitment to listening to people with lived experience of sanctuary and guaranteeing their welcome and inclusion in ensuring equal access to healthcare by training staff to recognise their unique barriers.
The CCG has embedded this work into policies and procedures and has a nominated lead at executive level. It is the first awarded CCG of Sanctuary as part of our Health of Sanctuary awards work, and with upcoming changes will share it’s learning and support the wider NHS across the Humber, Coast and Vale to apply our principles, ensuring the continuation of equality of access and a warm welcome for people, often traumatised by their background as refugees.
The CCG’s work has set a high bar for others to follow. However, there is more work to do together, and we will build on our partnership with Doctors of the World, to develop safe surgeries and inspire others nationally to follow the Hull CCG initiative.”