Focus groups and interviews in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire (particularly Fraserburgh), conducted in a range of languages, suggest generally high levels of patient satisfaction with NHS services. GREC’s annual research for NHS Grampian shows increasing levels of satisfaction over the years, especially in Dental Services and Sexual Health Services, and satisfaction with Hospital Services, Community Nursing, Pharmacy and Ophthalmology Services being consistently high (sometimes very high). Overall, satisfaction levels with health care services are higher in Aberdeen than in Fraserburgh, most marked in GP services.
Many issues that migrants described in relation to healthcare can be attributed to the gap between expectations and reality, based on differences between healthcare in their countries of origin in Central and Eastern Europe. In particular, migrants often expressed frustration that they could not always refer themselves to specialists (e.g. for gynaecology, back problems), and many opted to use medical and dental services in their countries of origin for long-term health issues, and even some acute issues. There were also many complaints about the perceived ‘wait and see’ approach of GPs, who were reluctant to give antibiotics or further tests for minor ailments, and many participants felt there was not enough emphasis on preventative care. For example many participants were used to regular wellness checks with blood/urine tests in their countries of origin, whereas Scottish GPs tend to focus on suspected illnesses.
Generally speaking, migrants had very positive experiences of interpreting and of maternity care in the Aberdeen/shire context, and there was a real appreciation for certain aspects of Scottish healthcare, e.g. free prescriptions, medical devices such as hearing aids, etc. It was noted that some services were available through self-referral, such as optometry, that were subject to long waiting lists in other countries. Additionally, while there were complaints about waiting several weeks for a GP appointment, participants also discussed how on-the-day appointments in other countries were often subject to long waits.
Loneliness was a significant issue affecting migrants’ wellbeing, often stemming from being unable to establish local support networks due to language issues or working long hours. In Aberdeenshire, there were specific problems associated with working in the fishing and food production industries – for example, ongoing skin problems from working in cold, wet conditions in fish factories, breathing problems from working with specific types of seafood, etc.
Other research reports available on the GREC website: Link.