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2005 Health Care Service Group Conference
31 December 2004

This Conference notes the horrific experiences that many people have of the immigration process in the UK and the role that the Dungavel Detention Centre in South Lanarkshire has played in this. This is not the only detention centre in the UK.

Conference is particularly concerned with the experiences of the Lanarkshire Health Branch that has members in Wishaw General and Hairmayres Hospitals. These are the main acute hospitals used by Dungavel detention centre for the provision of hospital-based care.

Over the past 6 months the branch has raised its concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers, who are receiving hospital treatment, by staff from Dungavel. This has included a woman going to surgery being handcuffed to a bed and armed staff clearing an area just outside a mental health unit in order to take a patient who had just been discharged back to Dungavel.

Conference believes that there is no place for Dungavel in the civilised society in which we live and condemns the Home Office for not only keeping it open but also extending it. Furthermore this Conference believes that this does nothing to dispel the belief that Dungavel is a prison particularly as the initial draft of the organisational policy relating to the treatment of asylum seekers showed no difference to the treatment of prisoners.

Conference recognises that there needs to be a unified approach to health branches who’s employers provide services to asylum detention centres and that these branches require a network.

Conference calls on the SGE to write to the Chief Executive of NHS Lanarkshire outlining UNISON’s concerns about not only that asylum seekers should be afforded the same dignity as the rest of the population when accessing hospital services but also concerns about the health and safety of staff in these hospitals (whether employed directly by the NHS or by the PFI contractors) who have to provide healthcare services.

Conference also calls on the SGE to investigate amongst health branches as to whether the problems experienced in Lanarkshire are common to all health branches who’s employers provide services to the asylum detention centres and to relate these concerns to the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Health Departments of all devolved administrations.