Britain's first asylum camp to get own GPs and dentists

·3 min read
Migrants due to be housed on the former RAF base in Linton on Ouse will have access to a 'bespoke' health service - Alamy stock photo
Migrants due to be housed on the former RAF base in Linton on Ouse will have access to a 'bespoke' health service - Alamy stock photo

Britain’s first asylum camp - dubbed Guantanamo on Ouse - will get their own GPs and dentists under NHS plans.

The 1,500 migrants aged 18 to 40 expected to be housed on a former RAF base in Linton on Ouse in north Yorkshire will have access to a “bespoke” health service comprising not only GPs and dentists but also chemists and opticians.

Campaigners against the camp say it will be a better service than that provided to residents of Linton-on-Ouse whose nearest GP is four miles away, closest private dentist more than seven miles away and whose mental health services are straining under a two year waiting list.

The plans, set out in documents from the Vale of York’s clinical commissioning group (CCG), said the specialist on-site health services were necessary to prevent the “fragile” existing NHS provision in the area becoming overloaded.

The camp on the converted RAF base will house up to 1,500 men aged 18 to 40 despite facing intense local opposition from villagers who claim they will be outnumbered by the asylum seekers.

About 60 men were due to move in at the end of May, but at the last minute the Home Office said no final decision had been taken on whether to accommodate asylum seekers there.

However, the papers from the governing board of the CCG show it  plans to commission a “bespoke, standalone enhanced primary care service for the asylum seeker population” and say planning work is continuing despite the delay. The proposals are due to be discussed by the CCG tomorrow (thur).

Services include GPs, pharmacies, dental and optometry services. With the three-GP practice in nearby Tollerton covering 3,500 patients, the CCG said it would not be “realistically achievable” to cater for 3,000 migrants a year, based on each cohort of 1,500 spending six months at the camp.

The CCG said that, along with Serco and its health provider, it was “aiming to be ready by the end of June 2022”. The Home Office has outsourced the day-to-day management of the centre to contractor firm Serco.

Professor Olga Matthias, one of the campaigners against the plans, said: “They are now supposedly going to be getting a GP service, dental service and mental health support that doesn’t exist in North Yorkshire at an adequate service level.”

She said there were no NHS dentists and the nearest private practice to LInton on Ouse was seven miles. Even the GPs in Tollerton were  four and a half miles away, provided the bridge on the road to it, which flooded in winter, was open. If it was under water, it was a six and half mile journey.

The CCG papers suggested that even the end of June deadline for opening was a problem. “Whilst we have a proposed approach, even with willing partners we are some way from commissioning a compliant service and we have few options for a short-term interim stop gap given the fragility of local services which cannot be called upon at this time. This will be a priority in our discussion with the health provider,” they said.

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