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Views of emergency care providers in providing healthcare for asylum seekers and refugees
  1. Cal Doherty1,
  2. Joanna Quinn2,
  3. David John Lowe3,4,
  4. Amal R Khanolkar1,5
  1. 1King's College London, London, UK
  2. 2NHS National Services Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  4. 4Emergency Department, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  5. 5Department of Population Health Sciences, King's College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cal Doherty, King's College London, London, UK; cal_doherty{at}


Background The number of asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their claims in the UK has more than tripled since 2014. How we meet international obligations to provide appropriate healthcare to asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs) is therefore an increasingly important issue. The views of frontline healthcare workers are vital to ensure the development of sustainable and effective health policy when it comes to caring for this group.

Method A single-centre qualitative study in the form of semistructured interviews was conducted at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital ED in Glasgow, Scotland, between January and March 2023. Volunteering ED care providers (EDCPs)—doctors and nurses—working in the ED were interviewed and the data analysed and presented through a thematic analytical framework.

Results 12 semistructured interviews were conducted—6 doctors and 6 nurses. Analysis revealed four themes: (1) ‘staff attitudes’ highlighted in particular the positive views of the participants in providing care for ASRs; (2) ‘presentation patterns’ revealed significant variations in opinion, with one-third of participants, for example, believing there was no difference in presentations compared with the general population; (3) ‘challenges to optimal care’ outlines multiple subthemes which impact care including the unique challenge of the ED triage system; and (4) ‘transition in care’ discusses participant concerns regarding arranging safe and appropriate follow-up for ASR patients. Ethical dilemmas in providing care, as highlighted in previous studies, did not feature heavily in discussions in this study.

Conclusion This study provides an insight into the views of EDCPs in providing care to ASRs in the ED. Study findings can potentially contribute to the development of ED-specific guidelines as well as inform wider health policy and provide a focus and direction for further research.

  • triage
  • qualitative research
  • global health

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data will be stored on King’s College London secure SharePoint database, for the minimum period of time up to 7 years pending final publication.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data will be stored on King’s College London secure SharePoint database, for the minimum period of time up to 7 years pending final publication.

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  • Handling editor Kirsty Challen

  • X @joannaquinn1

  • Contributors CD was the principal investigator (PI) and led all aspects of study including the development of the methodology, conducting interviews and reporting of the study. AK was the PI university supervisor for the project and reviewed the methodology and the final report and assisted in obtaining KCL REC and HRA approval. JQ was the second analyst of the interview data and assisted in the final report. DJL primarily assisted in gaining local site approval and gave practical support in conducting the study as well as reviewing the final report. AK and CD are joint guarantors.

  • 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.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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