House of Lords launch of the PROTECT study

The results of the PROTECT study on health and human trafficking were showcased at the House of Lords, London on 24 September 2015. This high level event was hosted by the Rt Hon. the Lord Howard of Lympne CH QC. GVHC’s Dr Cathy Zimmerman, who co-leads the PROTECT project alongside Professor Louise Howard of King’s College, spoke at the launch.


The overarching aim of the Provider Responses, Treatment and Care for Trafficked People (PROTECT) research programme is to provide evidence to inform the NHS response to human trafficking, specifically in the identification and referral of trafficked people, and safe and appropriate care to meet their health needs.


  • Synthesise evidence on the number of trafficked adults and children identified and using NHS services in England, the healthcare needs of trafficked people, and their experiences and use of healthcare
  • Document NHS experience, knowledge and gaps about trafficked people’s healthcare needs
  • Provide recommendations, materials and dissemination strategies to support NHS staff to identify, refer and care for trafficked people and to become a strategic partner within the UK National Referral Mechanism and with other agencies

Why carry out this research?

NHS staff have an essential role in identifying and referring trafficked people to other services and receiving and treating people referred for healthcare. Yet, there is extremely limited evidence to inform NHS responses. Anecdotal reports from post-trafficking services, law enforcement and a small number of provider studies suggest that trafficked people have difficulty accessing healthcare and providers do not feel equipped to identify and provide appropriate care for trafficked people.

How was the research undertaken?

To synthesise the evidence, PROTECT:

  • systematically reviewed literature on health outcomes associated with human trafficking, and related health services and policies
  • analysed data on the numbers, profile, health needs and care pathways of trafficked people identified in England
  • conducted survey research with trafficked people

To document NHS experience, PROTECT:

  • conducted in-depth interviews with NHS staff and non-NHS professionals involved in responding to human trafficking (e.g., shelters, police, social services)
  • surveyed NHS staff to investigate awareness of human trafficking, training needs, delivery mode and resources required to identify, refer and treat

To shape recommendations, PROTECT:

  • developed and evaluated bespoke NHS information and training materials informed by the project’s study findings and training package for health professionals (previously piloted in low and middle income countries)
  • synthesised findings to inform NHS strategy and role within the UK response to human trafficking


Related news stories

Image: Human traffic, Piccadilly Circus, London. Credit: Chris Beckett/Flickr

No comments yet.

Leave a comment