Health care needs 

Our refugee family’s journey to health…

Most of us are too well-aware of pressures on the NHS, but imagine navigating NHS services in a new country, with no English and little experience of a functioning health care system. Adding into the mix three young children, one with complex medical and therapeutic needs, an injured father and a pregnant mother would not be an easy journey for any family. Although the cogs of the NHS can move slowly, the health care our family has received has largely been wonderful. 

The local medical centre was extremely helpful. The daunting task getting our family up to speed with things like immunisations, was achieved in the first few months. They have all had their first dental checks and subsequent treatment thanks to the ….Dental Practice who, through a volunteer contact, took the family onto their books. A beautiful baby girl was delivered at the Jessop Wing in August. It has been a joy to hear the mother talking about her positive experience of these first few months with the new baby – telling us how different it was from having the other children in her tent in Lebanon. 

Previously carried everywhere by her father, the eight-year-old now has a wheelchair for the first time; for her, the last six months have included numerous visits to the Children’s Hospital and Ryegate Centre.  Other family members have attended the hospital and community clinics, and the Walk-in Centre. We still accompany the family for most of their appointments, but they are now attending the GP by themselves. 

The last six months has been like working on a 1,000-piece jigsaw; at times finding the right pieces has seemed impossible but slowly that jigsaw is taking shape. 

By Ann Burke