Question #4 – What are the effects of increased immigration on the NHS?
Immigrants are contributing greatly to the wealth of the country, but they are often portrayed as a burden on public services. In reality, migrants are often the very people delivering those services. According to MigrationWatch ‘the health and social work sector employs one in seven of all immigrants in the UK’. Mainly because the NHS suffered shortages of staff since its birth which was solved, as it is now, by ‘importing’ nurses, doctors and care assistants from overseas.
According to the independent King’s Fund, waiting times at A&E are at a nine-year high, with too many patients facing a four-hour wait. Last month, Tory MP Chris Skidmore, a member of the Health Select Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that many immigrants were not registering with GPs and were instead going straight to emergency departments when they had health problems.
His account was disputed by Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, who said: “Let’s talk not about abuse, let’s talk about facts”.
Immigrants tend to be younger than the rest of the population, so use health services less, she added: “You are much more likely to have an immigrant caring for you than pitching up in front of an A&E department.”
Gerada agreed some people from Eastern Europe were not used to seeing a GP so would be more inclined to turn up at A&E; “but it’s certainly not responsible for the massive increase we have seen in recent months.”