Illegal immigrant fears at hospitals after Home Office audit
Hundreds of illegal immigrants could be employed as cleaners, caterers and security staff at hospitals around Britain, it was feared last night.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:00AM BST 15 Apr 2010
A Home Office audit found almost one in ten staff used by an NHS contractor at five sites were using forged documents.
ISS Medicean employed 1,500 workers at the five hospitals, in London and the south east, but 7.8 per cent or almost 120 were found to be working illegally after examination of staff by the UK Border Agency.
Across the UK as a whole, the company employs more than 45,000 people, although that includes staff working in other sectors outside health care.
Channel 4 News claimed if the pattern was reflected across 10,000 blue collar ISS staff employed within the M25 alone, it could mean almost 1,000 illegal immigrants.
The UKBA audit was carried out following claims by Channel 4 News last November that some ISS staff at Kingston Hospital could be illegal. Three employees were later prosecuted for alleged ID card fraud.
It is understood that following the audit some 111 ISS Mediclean employees have since been dismissed or failed to return to work.
The findings renewed concerns over the potential scale of illegal immigrants in the country many of who will be working unlawfully.
The London School of Economics has suggested there could be between 400,000 and 600,000 illegal workers in Britain.
Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: This just proves that there is nowhere near enough enforcement on employers who are exploiting illegal immigrants.
Only 114 employees have been prosecuted and convicted since 1997, which is a bad joke.
If public confidence is to be restored, we need to get tough on businesses employing illegal immigrants.
Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said “tougher enforcement” was needed, adding: “I think this government has failed to deal with the deportation of illegal immigrants.”
But Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: “The fact we have ID cards and the sponsorship system in place is why we are seeing stores like these as the (Border) agency gets a grip on this issue.”
ISS Mediclean refuted the Channel 4 News claims and said it was wrong to extrapolate the findings of an audit of five sites across the company as a whole.
A spokesman added that it had done everything within its power to check the legality of its employees and had checked the paperwork and kept records for everyone it employs.
He suggested documents that later turned out to be counterfeit were of such high quality that only the UKBA with its resources and data systems could detect them.
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