The pressing issues faced by Gypsies and Travellers in relation to health

There are numerous issues which relate to the chronic exclusion of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in both historic and current policy initiatives, whether this is a lack of policy around accommodation, education or employment, it will all have some kind of impact on health outcomes.

Gypsies and Travellers have significantly poorer health outcomes, compared with the general population of England, and with other English-speaking ethnic minorities, resulting in higher mortality and morbidity rates than other comparable groups.

Whilst there is legislation to protect Romany Gypsies, European Roma and Irish Travellers under the Race Relations Act, in that they are recognised as minority ethnic groups, and should be afforded protection in law against discrimination, this is often not regarded in policy making. Whilst it is less likely that a policy will be directly racist, it is often the case that policy makers fail to identify the combination of factors that lead to systemic and institutionalised racism.

In addition to the institutional racism faced by many Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, we believe that the issues facing the majority of vulnerable people tend to be around access to health care, health literacy, poverty, multiple and complex needs, and often the experience of trauma. Many of these themes will be universal whether the person is homeless, Traveller, refugee, asylum seeker or sex worker.

The frustrations of navigating a system which fails to ‘hold you’, when you need support actually causes many service users to re-live early experiences of powerlessness, resulting in further trauma and again has a severe impact on health.

Friends, Families and Travellers are working with Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to address some of these issues and are seeking to work in solidarity with other vulnerable individuals and communities to make a lasting change.

Find out more here:

By Zoe Matthews
Strategic Advisor
Friends, Families and Travellers

To find out more about this topic watch Shaynie Larwood, Lead Nurse Gypsy and Traveller Health, NHS Cambridgeshire and Rose Wilson, Team for Traveller Education, Cambridgeshire County Council discuss Working in partnership with local councils, the health service and the voluntary sector to address inequalities and ensure effective delivery of services for the Gypsy and Traveller community at the 10th Annual Conference on Delivering Services for Gypsies and Travellers.