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Archive for June, 2023

Unseen Complications: Women Survivors of Abuse with NRPF Struggle to Access Dental Care in the UK

Survivors of abuse with No Recourse to Public Funds[i] (NRPF) often face a range of challenges when trying to access basic needs, including dental care. This is a critical issue that the Halo Project charity has been working to address, but the problem is far from solved. This blog post will shed light on the unseen complications that women survivors of abuse with NRPF are facing when trying to access dental care in the UK, using a real-life example of a woman we are currently supporting who was sexually assaulted multiple times when fleeing from the Middle East to the UK, which caused considerable trauma to her teeth.

In this case, the woman was told she was unable to access NHS dental care as she required a bridge implant, which NHS dentists said they could not provide. Halo staff took the woman to A&E to see if she could be referred from there, as well as speaking to 111 for assistance but received the same answer. This left her with limited options and no clear path forward to receive the necessary treatment. Halo staff spent a significant amount of time researching options and contacting dentists who we know have worked with other NRPF cases[ii], but they were still unable to find a solution. Despite best efforts, it appeared we were going to be unable to secure the care she desperately needed.

Eventually, a private dentist quoted approximately £6,000 for the treatment, which was clearly unaffordable for the woman with no recourse, and for Halo as a small By and For organisation with limited funding. Halo Project staff therefore continued the search for a more affordable and accessible option. Finally, they discovered Newcastle’s Dental Hospital, the major centre of specialist dental services for the northern region, and contacted them about the case. Fortunately, Halo were able to secure an appointment for this particular case and the Dental Hospital agreed to provide the necessary treatment required. However, this is just one case of many.

Many women survivors of abuse with NRPF already face significant barriers to accessing basic needs, including housing, food, and healthcare. This added complication of inconsistent dental care only serves to exacerbate these challenges and the additional barriers many Black and minoritised survivors face. In over a decade of specialist service provision, we have seen multiple cases of women with NRPF who have had dental issues (often caused by the abuse) but could not access the care they needed urgently, leaving some with nowhere to turn. This situation is untenable and demands immediate action.

We are calling on partner dental firms to work with us to help and support our women who face domestic and sexual violence. We need organisations we can trust to be there to provide these women with the basic dental care that they need to move forward with their lives without delay.

If you are a dental firm able to donate your time and resources to support vulnerable women in need of urgent support, please contact us at Together, we can make a difference in the lives of women survivors of abuse with NRPF and ensure that they receive the care they need and deserve.

[i] “No Recourse To Public Funds” (NRPF) is a term used in the UK to describe individuals who are not eligible for government-funded welfare benefits or public housing due to their immigration status. This means they have no access to financial assistance from the government, including benefits such as housing, employment, and healthcare. Survivors of abuse with NRPF therefore face additional barriers to accessing basic needs, such as dental care, as they often lack the financial resources to pay for the necessary treatment. This can leave them in a vulnerable and dangerous situation, with limited options for accessing the care they need.

[ii] A person with low income or no recourse to public funds who is not receiving qualifying benefits can apply for help with the full costs or partial costs of NHS dental care through the NHS Low-income scheme. Halo has supported women seeking asylum with NRPF to receive dental care through this scheme before, however this is not consistent and accessibility appears to be on a case-by-case basis in our experience.