National Health Policy Work

GP consortia (Latest Health Policy Developments)

We have been finding outwhat the new GP consortia will mean for the voluntary sector, and mental health services. Because GPs are the ones who will be ‘buying’ services in as 2013, it is important that they know the needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community. Among other services, GPs are going to be responsible for mental health services.
The principle behind the changes to the NHS is supposedly “no decision about me, without me”, however we know that Gypsies and Travellers often are not thoroughly consulted when it comes to health care, or if they do so, it is tokenistic and patchy at best. We know from our work that Gypsies and Travellers sometimes experience discrimination from the very people who are meant to provide their care. However we know of many clients who have excellent relationships with their GPs and these are the types of GPs we will want on board the consortiums. It is still early days for the consortiums. Much still needs to be worked out about how they will run, who will be involved, and how they will keep minority groups such as Gypsies and Travellers in the loop. We are working hard to have as much visibility as we can, as early as we can, so that we can ensure that the physical and mental health needs of the community are taken into account.

FFT’s Health work

FFT remains extremely concerned about the difficulties faced by the Traveller community in accessing adequate and appropriate health care. Throughout the year, representatives from the Unit have dealt directly with a number of Travellers (predominantly traditional Travellers) with serious health needs that have either been disregarded by the authorities or inadequately addressed. Incidents include repeatedly missed pre-op appointments, repeated police eviction of one family group while their three year old son was receiving emergency treatment in the local hospital and the eviction of a woman from council land the day before entering hospital for a hysteroscopy. This type of problem is directly linked to lack of sufficient and secure site provision and low or zero tolerance policies by local authorities.

The FFT health team works to support Gypsies and Travellers in and around Sussex as well as campaigning and lobbying for improved health provision for Gypsies and Travellers at a policy level. We use our experience of local work to inform Government departments and Race Equality groups of the issues that we find.



The 2004 “Health Status of Travellers in England report” by Sheffield University accepted that life expectancy was between 10 and 12 years less than the settled population. It has now been accepted by the DoH that this figure is likely to be nearer 20 years less than the life expectancy for the rest of the population. We know that infant mortality is at least three times higher than the national average and that a Gypsy mother is twenty times more likely to experience the death of a child before they reach eighteen years of age. Recent research on suicide in Ireland has shown that Travellers are three times more likely to commit suicide; we suspect that it may be higher in England but without sufficient monitoring this is hard to quantify.


More Resources

FFT Policy Statement on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) is a comprehensive overview of the health and social care needs of the local population, put together by the Local Authority and the health services. Each locality has to produce one and it is used to design services for the local population. Put simply, it is a snapshot view of what the health and social care needs of a population are, and commissioners then use it to decide what services will be put in place. Friends, Families and Travellers have been working to ensure that Gypsies and Travellers are included in the JSNAs. We are working with Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent and Medway, and Surrey, with respect to their JSNA. We are also campaigning on a national level for Gypsies and Travellers to systematically be included in the JSNA. Download the policy statement we have developed to support this work.

An Exploratory Study on the Health Needs of Gypsies and Travellers. 23rd July 2001. Marianne Tavares with Travellers.
Read the full report here.

“The Health Status of Gypsy Travellers in England”: A report to the Department of Health, by the University of Sheffield, 2004.
For more, click here.

“The health of Gypsies and Travellers in the UK”: A Race Equality Foundation briefing paper, written by Zoe Matthews, 2008.
For more, click here.


Last modified: July 12, 2016