With 1 in 20 of London's population now a refugee or asylum seeker, MigrationwatchUK seeks enquiry into 'misuse' of NHS

November 25, 2002

With 1 in 20 of the population of London now either a refugee or asylum seeker, a leading migration think-tank is calling for an immediate investigation into the impact this is having on health provision in the capital.

Giving evidence to an investigative review of asylum seekers and refugees in London by the Public Service Committee of the London Assembly on 26th November, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch UK, will say that a full and honest debate about the impact of current large scale immigration into Britain - particularly London and the south east where 2/3rds of migrants settle - requires that the costs be considered alongside any benefits.

'In a recent report we said that Government claims that migrants bring net benefit to the nation's finances are quite wrong. They did not include many of the associated costs,' said Sir Andrew.

One very important omission was the cost of extra health facilities for these additional residents - some 350,000 to 400,000 people according to the Assembly's own estimates - equivalent to about two London Boroughs.

Those who are here legally are rightly entitled to health care but, over the last 10 years a third of a million asylum claimants have been refused while there is no evidence that they have left the UK. Others are smuggled in but there is nothing to stop them claiming health care. Nor is there any effective check on tourists, visitors or those who overstay their visas.

Sir Andrew said that he was very surprised that the objectives of the committee's review dealt only with the provision of services and support for asylum seekers and refugees. The major impact on London's indigenous population was being completed ignored.

'In fact, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of widespread abuse of the NHS by those not entitled to its benefits,' said Sir Andrew. 'People working in the service are bound by confidentiality agreements and by data protection. The result is that a serious problem is simply being covered up and as a consequence is one which the authorities are failing to address,' he said.

'I am therefore calling for an immediate investigation of the misuse of the NHS. Its outcome will be highly relevant to the debate on entitlement cards. This issue has been ducked for too long. It must now be tackled. We must not leave the field open to those - particularly on the far right - who are exploiting the concerns of the people of London for their own ends,' he said.

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