Health Factsheet

The Facts
Some mentees may find it difficult to access health services.  This will be determined by the length of time they have been in the UK, their level of English, or their knowledge of how the UK system works and where to go for advice.
All those with refugee status, discretionary leave or humanitarian protection are entitled to receive NHS treatment. This includes access to Accident and Emergency treatment, compulsory mental health treatment, initial HIV and Aids testing and counselling and treatment for certain communicable diseases (i.e. TB and sexually transmitted diseases) for free.
Those on a low income are entitled to health benefits which will enable them to get free prescriptions and/or free and reduced dental charges and free eye tests.

Potential issues and ways to work through them

Understanding the System
Some mentees may not be aware of how the health system operates within the UK.  Mentors can help them by outlining what they are entitled to, how to access these services and the range of services available. 

Registering with a GP
This is the first point of call in order to access the UK health system.  All those living in the UK have the right to register with a GP. Except in the case of an emergency or in the case of some specialist clinics, you cannot receive NHS hospital treatment without being refered by a GP.
There are a number of ways you can find a GP in your local area:

-   NHS Direct - http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/  This allows you to search for your 5 closest GPs, dentists, pharmacists and opticians according to postcode. Alternatively call them on 0845 4647
-   Citizens Advice Bureau http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

To gain more information on a particular practice you can pick up a copy of a practice leaflet.  This will include information such as name the GPs, indicate surgery hours, indicate whether an appointment system operates, explain arrangements for getting advice over the phone, for collecting repeat prescriptions, for out of hours provision and requesting home visits.

Problems with registration
If you have been unable to register with a GP, you should contact the local Primary Care Trust (PCT). The PCT will try to find a GP who is prepared to accept you.   However, this will not necessarily be a GP of your choice.
To register you need to fill out a registration form.  It is also common practice for a new patient offered a basic health check, usually with the practice nurse.  Once you have registered, your local health authority will also send you an NHS card.

Entitlements to Health benefits
People can receive assistance with NHS costs on age or medical grounds or if they are on a low income.
Many refugees are on a low income and therefore may be entitled to receive health benefits.
They may be able to gain assistance under the NHS Low Income Scheme. The amount of help is based on a comparison between a person's income and the requirements at the time that a claim is made or a charge was paid.
You are automatically entitled to full help with health costs if you or your partners are getting:
•   Income Support
•   Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
•   Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
or if
•   you are named on a Tax Credit NHS Exemption Certificate

Making a low income claim: HC1 Form
Even if you are not receiving any of the above you may still be entitled to receive support under the NHS low income scheme.
You need to complete a HC1 form.  These can be obtained from Jobcentre Plus offices and NHS hospitals. Some GPs, dentists, opticians and chemists might also have them.
You can claim for health benefits anytime before you need treatment; you don’t have to wait until you need help with paying health costs.
The form is 16 pages long and only avaliable in English, therefore mentees may need some assitance to fill it in.
Form HC1 may be used to claim help for you, your partner and your children with paying health costs for:
•   NHS prescriptions
•   NHS dental treatment
•   NHS wigs and fabric supports
•   Sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
•   Travel  for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant
The claim for assistance will be assessed on the basis of the information in the application and it may allow you to get the above list free, or to recieve help with paying for them.

If your application on claim form HC1 is successful, you will receive either certificate HC2 or HC3.
•    Certificate HC2 means that you will not need to pay the following health costs: prescription charges; NHS dental charges; eye tests, glasses and contact lenses; travel to hospital for NHS treatment; wigs and fabric supports.
•    Certificate HC3 provides partial help with some of these health costs.
Certificates are usually valid for six months. If your circumstances remain unchanged after six months then, if necessary, you should make a new claim before the current certificate expires.

NHS Services
If mentees are unfamiliar with the NHS health system it may be helpful for mentors to explain the range of services available on under the NHS.  The following is a brief run down:
NHS Direct
NHS Direct – 0845 46 47 - is a confidential national 24-hour telephone advice and health information service staffed by nurses and professional advisers.
Services they provide:
-   Helpline - you can call NHS Direct for advice on what to do if you or a family member feels ill. You will be transferred to a nurse, who will ask you a series of questions. They will then advise you on the most appropriate course of action.
-   Information - NHS Direct can give details of local GP practices, NHS dentists, emergency dental services, walk-in centres, opticians and pharmacies including late opening pharmacies. They can tell you which PCT or SHA covers your area. They also provide Information on particular health conditions; self-help or support groups.
-   Translation – If it is required, NHS offer a confidential translation service. You simply need to say the English word for the language you would prefer to use and then you will then be connected to an interpreter who will help NHS Direct staff give you the help or information you need.
-   Online - There is also an online service www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk. The on-line service allows you to look for information on a wide range of health conditions, treatments and operations. It also provides information on healthy living and gives links to other web sites you may find helpful. A specialist section looks in depth at a range of topics including diabetes, stroke and breast cancer. There is also a self-help guide to treating common illnesses at home.

NHS Walk-in centres
There are currently over 40 centres open 7 days a week from early morning until late evening. They are designed to provide fast and convenient access to help if you are feeling unwell. A mixture of nurse practitioners and nurses provide a range of services to treat minor illnesses and also minor injuries – cuts, grazes or strains. They can also offer health information and advice. Contact NHS Direct to find the one closest to you.

NHS Minor injuries treatment centres
These are also open 7 days a week and treat minor injuries. Call NHS Direct to see if there is one near you.
All people in the UK regardless of their immigration status are entitled to free treatment for certain.
Other services avaliable:
-   Women’s health
-   Sexual health/ GUM clinics
-   HIV and AIDs services
-   Family Planning services
-   Children’s health services
-   Mental health and emotional health services

Mental Health
It is equally important for mentees to be aware of the support they can receive if they have any mental health problems. 
Many of the mentees on Time Together have been through difficult times in their recent lives.  This might include experiencing trauma in the past, social isolation, uncertainty, instability and the stress of trying to rebuild their lives in an unfamiliar community.  This can place an unmanageable amount of pressure on an individual and may in some cases lead to mental health problems.
It is important for mentors to remember that they are not expected to be a counsellor.  Mentors who feel that their mentees may need professional help but are not comfortable bringing this issue up with them, please get in touch with the Time Together coordinator who will be on hand to provide support to both mentors and mentees.
Where to go for support with mental health problems:
Talk to your GP
Your GP is a good person to discuss your mental health problems with.  They will be able to outline the kinds of support avaliable and can suggest which course of action may be the most suitable to help.  They can put you in touch with a a counsellor or refer you to an NHS psychologist or psychotherapist. 
However, if you do not want to talk to your GP there are other services avaliable.
MIND is the leading mental health charity in Britain.  They work to create a better life for all those with experience of mental distress and to create a greater understanding and awareness of mental health problems. 
They run a confidential information line providing advice on a range of mental health issues. Call 0845 766 0163.  They not only offer support for those with mental health issues but also give advice to the people trying to support them.
They also run a MIND network, which is a network of over 200 local MIND associations throughout England and Wales. They offer supported housing, crisis helplines, drop-in centres, counselling, befriending, advocacy, employment and training schemes, and other services.  To find details of your local MIND association look on the MIND website.
Their website contains lots of information and good advice on mental health issues.

The Mental Health Foundation
They provide information and advice on mental health issues, including definitions, resources, and links to mental health information resources.
Website: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Scottish Association for Mental Health
They operate a range of services across Scotland for people with mental health problems and also strive to influence public policy as it affects people with mental health problems.
Website: http://www.samh.org.uk/

BBC Health Website
This contains lots of useful information and advice about mental health issues, including how to offer support to those experiencing mental health problems.  It also contains useful links to other sources of information.
Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/mental_health



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