Migrants with TB should be sent home, say Tories
This Is London.co.uk
Migrants from 130 countries with a high risk of TB are being cleared to live in Britain without any health checks, it has emerged.
Once here, those with the disease are entitled to free treatment on the Health Service.
The Conservatives said last night that the loophole was fuelling 'health tourism' and any migrant found to have TB should be placed immediately on a plane back home.
Cases of tuberculosis, which can be deadly if left untreated, are rising at 11 per cent a year, with immigrants accounting for seven out of ten new cases.
Pre-screening of potential migrants – forcing them to undergo health tests before they are granted a visa to visit Britain for six months or more – is taking place in only 11 countries.
These are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Thailand.
This is despite 131 other countries being described as officially 'high-risk' of TB, which means there are over 40 cases for every 100,000 residents. The first test migrants from these nations receive is when they arrive at a British port.
Under Government guidelines, migrants found to have TB on arrival are sent to a GP or NHS hospital, where they are treated at taxpayers' expense.
The cost of treatment can range from 1,000 for a patient with nonresistant TB to as much as 125,000 for those with multi-drug resistant TB.
Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green said: 'People who are infected should not be let-out into the community. There is also clearly a danger of health tourism there, so to some extent we would all feel more comfortable if people could be told you have got to go home to be treated, you have got an infectious disease.
'They would not have come here without plans to return home if they are coming legally. It would clearly be better all round if they went straight back home to be treated.'
He added: 'The Government knows this is a long-standing health problem which is getting worse but, despite promising action, it has not delivered.
'They are screening applicants from very few countries, despite the number regarded as high risk standing at 142 around the world. There is not anything like enough action taking place.'
According to the Health Protection Agency, the majority of patients newly diagnosed with HIV, TB and malaria are migrants.
Around 70 per cent of new cases of TB in 2004 were found among people born outside the UK. Latestfigures for 2005 show the disease is on the increase, with the biggest rise among people born abroad.
There were 8,113 cases in 2005 – up from 7,321 cases in 2004, a rise of 11 per cent.
Around 300 to 400 people die of TB in the UK each year, with the highest proportion from an Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic background.
A Home Office spokesman said an expansion of TB pre-screening was being evaluated.
Reader views (7)
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Before I could take up employment in the Middle East I had to have a full medical, including blood tests and x-rays. Discovery of any contagious or infectious disease would have prevented my travel to the countries concerned.
Every three years, I had to renew my residence visa, which involved further complete medical checks (paid for by either by the individual or his/her company). If any diseases were discovered eg TB, HIV/AIDS etc, quarantine and deportation rapidly followed.
Clearly, the rulers of Middle Eastern countries display more concern for the health of their nationals (rightly so) than does the British Government, who seems to be more concerned with the 'Human Rights' of the foreigners who are infecting our native population with their imported diseases. Not to mention the huge cost of providing expensive treatment, for which they have contributed nothing.
It is about time the political culture in this country was changed to put the concerns and welfare of our own people before that of foreigners.
– Colin Ray, Granada Spain
Simple, whoever is entering this country should go through the health check at the port of entry. Why should we (tax payer) have to pay for the services for those who have just come to this country and have not contributed a penny for the services! It's really unfair.
– Gita, London
“The Government knows this is a long-standing health problem which is getting worse but, despite promising action, it has not delivered.”
Same old, same old then.
– Andy, London