London GPs lead aid mission to Calais refugee camp

East London GPs and practice managers have delivered aid to refugees and migrants living in the makeshift camp near Calais.

Calais refugee camp: More than 6,000 people live in makeshift camp
Calais refugee camp: More than 6,000 people live in makeshift camp

Doctors and staff from practices across Tower Hamlets raised over £2,300 as well as supplies of toiletries, clothing, food and sleeping bags for the migrants, many of whom have fled the war in Syria and other conflict zones. Money raised was used to purchase building materials and other supplies as well as a donation to Doctors of the World, the medical charity working at the camp.

The delegation to Calais, where more than 6,000 people have been living in tents and makeshift shelters, included  GPs Dr Jackie Applebee of Tradegar Practice, Dr Naureen Bhatti of Limehouse practice, Dr Stuart Bingham of Barkantine practice, and Dr Alex Sohal of Chrisp Street practice, as well as four practice managers from the borough.

Dr Bingham said he visited a medical centre at the camp which was staffed by nurse volunteers including one from Barts Health in London. The volunteers said they had limited medical supplies.

Calais refugee health

Dr Bhatti  met men at the camp suffering chronic upset stomachs from living there, for which the only medication available was paracetamol.

‘Everyone I spoke to was a refugee from war - it was impossible for them to stay in the homes they came from,’ said Dr Bhatti. ‘We spoke to Afghans, Eritreans, Sudanese, all with impeccable English, all with family in the UK. Many had half finished degrees in engineering, teaching, nursing to name a few. We spoke to a 13-year-old and two 16-year-old twins, alone, desperate to get to family in the UK. Also, like all the young men I meet through my daughters they are wanting to learn, work and watch football.’

The group said they hoped action like theirs would help to pressure the British government to help the migrants and allow them into Britain.

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