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Migrant health plan doubts

By Alisdair Stirling

Controversial government plans to force firms to pay for private health cover for migrant workers are ill-thought out and will make no difference to GP workload, according to a GP in one of the UK´s highest immigration areas.

Dr Michael Kennedy, a GP in Peterborough said the plans, included in the Government´s announcement on capping numbers of non-EU workers allowed into the UK this week, would not affect the numbers of migrants consulting GPs.

Dr Kennedy said that with around 80,000 migrant workers employed in agricultural jobs in the neighbouring Fenland area, his practice list size had grown by thousands in recent years, predominantly due to the arrival of East European migrants.

He said his practice had found it difficult to cope and that the they had lost money from taking on so many patients. He doubted whether the small fruit farms, agencies and gangmasters that employed the migrants would pay for private health insurance for their staff.

And he said he believed that the patients would still turn to the NHS when they needed treatment.

'The trouble is, you can´t control access to primary care,' he told Pulse. 'Patients who wish to consult will just say it´s an emergency and if you see them, you are ethically bound to treat them.

'This one has really not been thought out. What we really need is extra resources for practices in areas by population growth to help them cope.'