British Red Cross: Offline and Isolated: how digital exclusion impacts access to healthcare for people seeking asylum in England
The British Red Cross have published their latest report, Offline and Isolated: how digital exclusion impacts access to healthcare for people seeking asylum in England, undertaken as part of the VSCE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.
The report finds that people seeking asylum in England are at risk of digital exclusion, which has consequences for healthcare access, especially in the context of the rapid digitalisation of public services, from Biometric Residency Permits to GP appointments. Specifically, the research found that:
- Lack of access to the internet in their accommodation; not being able to afford mobile data and devices; inaccessibility of online healthcare platforms due to registration requirements and language barriers, and lack of digital literacy.
- Digital exclusion resulted in some people delaying seeking medical care. It also had harmful effects on participants’ mental health and wellbeing, leaving many participants lonely and isolated.
To address these and other findings the report recommends improvements in policy and practice that will help to ensure that people seeking asylum in England can access the healthcare they need when they need it. These include:
- improvements in access to the internet and digital devices in Home Office provided accommodation
- improving the accessibility of online healthcare platforms
- provision of digital literacy training.
The work was designed and undertaken in collaboration with five peer researchers with refugee status to carry out 30 in-depth interviews across England with people seeking asylum, who co-produced several aspects of the report.