A National Health Service (NHS) study from the United Kingdom shows that 25% of the NHS Trusts do not adequately train physicians to recognize people who are victims of human trafficking, according to data published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.1

Human trafficking in the United Kingdom and Europe is escalating. It is now believed that there are 10,000 to 13,000 people trafficked every year in the United Kingdom.2 Researchers from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry found that 69% of NHS Trusts provide training to physicians on human trafficking. 

They note that 91.5% of the Trusts that provided training did so as part of safeguarding training. In addition, of the 25% of Trusts that are not providing training, only 39% are in the process of developing training programs or plan to provide training.


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A recent US study found that about 28% of trafficked survivors come in contact with a healthcare provider sometime during their captivity.3 Physicians need to be able to recognize the risk factors, clinical indicators, and appropriate response strategies.

Clinical indications of trafficking include bleeding, bruising, fractures, chronic pain, dental and nutritional problems, exacerbation of pre-existing chronic disease, and mental health disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder.

Currently in the United Kingdom, a sum of £14 million (almost 19 million US dollars) has been appropriated for use against trafficking. The researchers advocate using this time to train all physicians in victim recognition and in antitrafficking strategies.

References

  1. Thompson C, Mahay A, Stuckler D, Steele S. Do clinicians receive adequate training to identify trafficked persons? A scoping review of NHS Foundation Trusts. JRSM Open. 2017;8:1-17.
  2. Duty to notify the Home Office of potential victims of modern slavery. GOV. UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/duty-to-notify-the-home-office-of-potential-victims-of-modern-slavery. Updated March 18, 2016. Accessed September 21, 2017.
  3. Family Violence Prevention Fund. Turning pain into power: trafficking survivors’ perspectives on early intervention strategies. https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/ImmigrantWomen/Turning%20Pain%20intoPower.pdf. October 2005. Accessed September 19, 2017.