Survivors of torture and human cruelty often have multiple injuries, illnesses and medical healthcare needs that require NHS treatment, typically including head injuries and neurological disorders, badly healed fractures and wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory disorders and rape injuries, including sexually transmitted infections. Clients have often had ineffective and sporadic contact with health care providers, usually limited to emergency or crisis contact and beginning to address their multiple medical needs is extremely difficult because of limitations of time and accessibility within the NHS. HBF’s in-house advisory GPs offer extended appointments of up to 1 hour, alongside interpreters experienced in working with trauma survivors, which allow clients appropriate time and opportunity to discuss their history and concerns. Following an in depth assessment, HBF GPs offer specialist advice to client’s NHS GP and other healthcare providers. HBF Medical Advisory Service is run on the generosity of volunteer GPs.
Frieda is a survivor of modern slavery from East Africa. As a young girl, Frieda’s father sold her to a man to pay off his debts. The man treated Frieda as a slave, repeatedly raping and systematically starving her. When Frieda first came to the Helen Bamber Foundation, she was suffering from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and was painfully underweight. Through intensive therapy, we helped Frieda to reduce her panic attacks and worked with her to build her self-esteem and confidence. In the Medical Advisory Clinic, Dr Hunt helped Frieda understand what she needed to eat to provide her ailing body with the nutrition she was deprived of for so many years. In the past six months, we have been delighted to see Frieda achieve a healthy weight and have enough energy to become a regular participant in our weekly yoga classes.
*all names are pseudonyms