Gypsy travellers ‘turned away from GP surgeries’ - report
TRAVELLERS in Scotland are often turned away from GP surgeries without being given an explanation, a group of MSPs has claimed.
The Scottish Parliament’s equal opportunities committee has highlighted what it says are gaps in access in health and social care services provided to Travellers.
A committee report has found that Travellers are subject to racial discrimination that would not be tolerated if it was directed towards any other ethnic minority group.
The committee quoted a survey that suggested over two-thirds of people would be unhappy if a relative formed a relationship with a Traveller, compared with under 10 per cent who feel the same about a relationship with a black or Asian person.
Reports that individuals have been turned away from what is supposed to be a free and universal National Health Service system.
The report said: “GP surgeries are able to refuse people as patients without giving a reason.
“This often happens to gypsy travellers. Sometimes, reasons are given, such as the applicant living on a site that straddles two practice catchment areas or not being able to prove when registering that they will remain in the area for long enough.
“Many gypsy traveller families regularly travel 200-300 miles to see a GP or dentist whom they trust and know will see them.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There should be no barriers to Travellers accessing or receiving health services and the GP registration regulations apply equally to members of the travelling and settled populations.”
In Scotland a patient does not need to be resident in a practice area to be accepted for treatment.
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