A deal struck between the Home Office and a private company has left Leicestershire health authority struggling to provide back-up to GPs facing 'a huge additional workload' when 430 asylum seekers move into a city hotel.
Leicester's International Hotel has been bought by private company Acommodata, which has agreed a contract with the Home Office to send asylum seekers to the hotel. Local GP Dr Angela Lennox, whose surgery serves one of Britain's most deprived estates, has closed her patients' list in protest 'unless I am given extra support staff by the health authority'.
But the HA has admitted it was taken by surprise by the move and 'was not informed by the Home Office about proposals to relocate asylum seekers, by private arrangement, to the International Hotel'.
The HA promised to ensure that all asylum seekers were registered with local GPs and given full access to health facilities, but acknowledged the 'huge additional workload' facing the GPs involved.
It said: 'The lack of notice means that it has not been possible to arrange additional support for these GPs to help with the initial health assessments, undertaken as part of the registration process, but we are looking at options to address this.'
In the same week, a high-profile campaign against plans to downgrade Leicester's respected cardiac centre at Glenfield Hospital looks set to score a victory. Leicestershire HA was due to launch new proposals yesterday which would instead see Leicester General Hospital losing its emergency facilities to become a rehabilitation centre. The new scheme - due to begin three months of consultation - will increase investment from£150m to£225m.
Proposals to turn Glenfield Hospital into a rehabilitation centre, and transfer heart and breastcare facilities to Leicester General Hospital met a backlash from local councillors and Glenfield clinicians and a 150,000 strong petition.