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One of the most humbling aspects of emergency medicine (EM) is how up close and personal we are with those living on the fringes of society. With a reflective mindset, our engagement with patients whose lives are beyond their control—for example, due to addiction, homelessness or mental ill health—we can recognise how fine the line is between our position and theirs. It is possible to empathise and, with a little effort, some attempt to direct such patients to appropriate support can be achieved. However, we still struggle as a specialty to feel adequately skilled in helping these patients, and this can lead to a sense of frustration.1
What then of those patients whose stories we cannot even truly access due to language barriers, wide cultural differences and life experiences so removed from our own that, although we can try, we will struggle to ever fully understand? Refugees and asylum seekers are frequently used as a political football. Certainly, the UK media are notorious for using populist divisive language to detract the public from the causes of deeper economic problems.2 Healthcare professionals are not immune from such media narratives and we have a …
Contributors Sole contributor with some editorial advice provided by Louise Tomkow.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.