The number of immigrants from Eastern Europe is an “increasingly important issue” for GP services in Northamptonshire, an MP has claimed.
Tory Philip Hollobone (Kettering) said GPs have told him the influx of immigrants is a “genuine problem” for them.
Mr Hollobone told a Westminster Hall debate: “Another increasingly important issue for Kettering and for Northamptonshire is the number of people who are arriving from Eastern Europe and who are seeking GP services.
“This is causing problems for GPs with regard to many of them not being able to speak proper English, especially when it comes to medical terms and also with regards to accessing their previous medical records.
“Every GP that I spoke to over the summer recess said that they had new arrivals from Eastern Europe on their books and that this was a very genuine problem for them.
“One of the effects is the inclusion of the translation services paid for by the local Primary Care Trust.”
He said the cost of those services is “diluting” the money available for medical services.
Junior health minister Ivan Lewis did not comment directly but said there has been “unprecedented” investment in healthcare in recent years.
He said: “In 2006-07 the allocation to the primary care trust increased to £730m, a cash increase of 12.7%, and in 07-08 it received £817m, a further cash increase of 12%.
“That is a cash increase of 26% over the two years compared to a national average of 19.5%. So there is a recognition in the funding formula and the funding system that your constituents have particular issues that they have to address.”
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“We have seen a substantial increase in our use of language line and face-to-face interpreters in recent years, the cost of which is met by the PCT. However, this is adding to the strain on the limited resources available. Consultations that require interpreters often take twice as long, so this impacts on the number and availability of appointments we are able to offer” – Name and address supplied