Various outbreaks of tuberculosis (TB) in and around Bolton have been attributed to the city’s higher than average migrant population in an official report.
Bolton has a “significantly higher” rate of the deadly and contagious disease, and every single new case in the past twelve months has been linked to schools “which mainly comprise students from countries with a relatively high burden of TB.”
The report was produced by Bolton Council and warns that: “Those most at risk are migrant populations and vulnerable groups.” It reveals: “The UK currently has the second highest rate of TB among Western European countries” and that more dangerous “multi drug resistant” strains are on the rise.
It states that England as a whole has an incidence of 13.5 cases per 100,000 of the population. However, “based on three year averages between 2011 and 2013, the number of new cases per year in Bolton… [is] 19.7 cases per 100,000 population.”
Despite rates falling slightly in the past few months, the report is clear: “It needs to be acknowledged that the rate of new cases is still significantly higher in Bolton than in England (an extra 4.9 cases per 100,000). This is due to Bolton having a higher than average number of residence who were born abroad in countries with a high TB burden with nearly three quarters of all new cases occurring in those born abroad,” it says.
Furthermore: “All the cases [identified in the past 12 months] have been linked to school age children which mainly comprise students from countries with a relatively high burden of TB.”
“In addition” the report states, “there is a strong association between TB and social deprivation, and Bolton has a higher than average proportion of deprived residents when comparing areas nationally.”
The cost to the NHS of treating of treating TB, as well as HIV, which is also discussed in the report, and other diseases associated with migrants is very high.
Professor Meirion Thomas, a consultant who has worked in the NHS for 44 years told the Daily Express that the annually cost to the British taxpayer could be billions.
He said: “There are tales of families relocating because a child has a severe congenital or acquired illness, of large numbers of patients with HIV coming to the UK because that is their only hope of getting effective treatment.”
Andrew Bridgen, who was the Tory MP for North West Leicestershire in the last Parliament, said: “This is not the International Health Service, it’s the National Health Service.
“Non-UK nationals seeking medical attention should pay for their treatment. The NHS is funded by UK taxpayers for UK citizens and if any of us went to any of these countries we’d certainly be paying if we needed to be treated.”