The doctor may be able to help the detainee without visiting the detainee in person

The doctor may be able to help the detainee without visiting the detainee in person.  The doctor can discuss with the detainee on the phone, give advice and point to the recommended guidelines relating to their problem (for example the need for malaria prophylaxis, fitness to fly etc).  

  • The detainee may then be able to request the health care centre within the detention centre to consider their problem.
  • The detainee can inform their lawyer about the issue.
  • The doctor may be able to write a supporting letter about the medical needs of the detainee based on general principles and guidelines.

The Medical Justice Casework Manager will normally obtain a detainee's medical notes from the Immigration Removal Centre. When you, as a doctor, are asked to telephone a detainee, ask the referrer if the detainee knows that you are going to contact them and will know who you are when you phone. Most detainees have mobile phones.  In some detention centres you can also call them through the main landline.  You will need the room number or extension in order to get through to them. When telephoning a detainee always make sure you are speaking to the right person.

In case of previous error or misunderstanding, ask the detainee if they have any medical problems that you can help with. Do not ask them about any condition before they have told you about it. Always assume your call is not private; the landlines are often in communal areas. The detainee may ask you to call back when there is more privacy.

If you want information from another doctor usually you need to speak to the doctor’s secretary and then fax the consent with a request to speak to the doctor and/or for past letters to be faxed to you. Do not assume that anyone, including their lawyer, knows their diagnosis. Detainees need to give consent for you to pass on medical information obtained from outside doctors and also that written by you, to lawyers, immigration and detention centre health centre.

This information may enable you, with the detainee’s consent, to write a supporting letter about their specific condition to their lawyer [or to the UK Border Agency case worker if they don’t have a lawyer] enclosing previous letters. It must always be made clear that the doctor has only spoken to the detainee on the telephone and that the letter is based on information provided by the detainee.

➢    Appendix 2 - C Consent from patient to share information.