INQUIRY: ‘No strain on health services’ - doctor

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THE arrival of large numbers of migrants in Boston has not put any significant strain on health services in the area, according to professionals.

At the latest meeting of Boston Borough Council’s immigration inquiry, representatives from Lincolnshire NHS and the local GP Cluster said that despite common perception among the general public, migration from ‘A8’ Eastern European countries had made very little difference to surgeries.

In fact, Dr Simon Lowe, who works at the Westside Surgery in Sleaford Road, said many of the surgeries rarely saw many of the migrants registered with them, with elderly people the main group which visited sites in the borough.

Dr Lowe, who represented the Boston GP Cluster at the council’s task and finish group, said: “The population has changed hugely since I came to Boston, however in terms of health services I am yet to see that it has involved significant strain that the surgeries cannot deal with.

“A lot of the A8 community are healthy, young people.”

He added that the arrival of young migrants had actually helped some flagging medical services, by bolstering the maternity unit at Pilgrim Hospital at a time of low use.

On Thursday the doctor said: “In terms of hospital usage the A8 community has assured the security of the maternity unit at Pilgrim Hospital. There were concerns at one point over a falling birth rate and how that would affect the economy of the area. These questions seem to have disappeared as we have an influx of young people and they are having children.”

Despite the seemingly easy absorption of migrants into the local health system, Dr Lowe said there had been problems – one of those being the language barrier between staff and patients.

However, issues have also arisen away from the consulting room, with some tensions boiling over in the waiting area.

Mr Lowe said: “There is a perception in certain areas that the system is being ‘clogged up’ by people who do not speak English and that this causes some disruption. People feel as if they are being denied because others are having.

“I have no evidence that this happens at all. We make appointments based on need rather than making things available for specific people. It would be wrong to favour any particular group.”