Thursday, 28 August 2014

Report slams treatment of Gypsies in Scotland

Travellers and Gypsies often live in unsafe locations, are victims of prejudice and find it difficult to access health services, a committee of members of Scottish Parliament have found.

The equal opportunities committee at Holyrood yesterday published a report looking at the provision of services for Gypsies and Travellers.

The report found that over half of Gypsies and Travellers have spent time without running water, while land provided by councils for Gypsies and Travellers is ‘unpopular brownfield sites unsuitable for conventional residential or commercial use’.

The report said: ‘Most council sites for Gypsies or Travellers in Scotland are built in undesirable and unsafe locations, such as beside landfill sites and rubbish dumps, canals, or railway lines and under electricity pylons.’

Unlike in England, there is no legal duty on councils to provide sites. Nine in 10 Travellers and Gypsies said they had experienced bullying or prejudice.

The committee also found that in some cases GP surgeries had refused to register Gypsies and Travellers, on the grounds they have no fixed address or because the surgery had previous difficulties with Gypsy and Traveller families missing appointments.

The report said: ‘That any individual could be turned away from what should be a free, universal healthcare system was one of the most alarming pieces of evidence we heard.

‘We urge the minister to report to us, clarifying what obstacles exist, on what steps can be taken to stop the practice of refusing GP treatment and/or registration to Gypsies and Travellers – and, indeed, to anybody who requires it, irrespective of background or housing arrangements.’

The committee called on the Scottish Government to make ‘real significant changes to the lives of Gypsies and Travellers’.


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