Non-emergency medical care at ports is becoming more difficult to access during the pandemic, leaving sick seafarers to suffer in silence, sometimes for months at a time. This warning was issued by seafarer trade union Nautilus.
Access to medical care in port is enshrined in the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The ship owner is also obliged to provide seafarers with free onboard medical care. However, seafarers report a lack of non-emergency medical or dental services available to them around the world, says Nautilus.
1. We should be concentrating on the health and well-being of all seafarers and the effects of Covid.
I want us to help get medical facilities in ports open again for my crew.
I want to get them to see a dentist when they need one.
I want them to get home to their families.
— SecretCaptain (@TheSecretCapt) January 15, 2021
Seafarers have also told Nautilus a lack of access to non-Covid related medical care has become a barrier to employment. One member described a sick colleague who has been off work for several months with non-Covid medical needs who was unable to get an appointment to see a consultant or get the necessary surgery. Another member reported being on an NHS waiting list ‘for months’ with no idea when they would be seen.