Bespoke NHS service being planned to serve Linton-on-Ouse asylum centre

NHS chiefs are planning a bespoke health service for the proposed asylum seeker centre near York to prevent ‘fragile’ existing services from becoming overloaded.

Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is to commission a “bespoke, standalone enhanced primary care service for the asylum seeker population” at the former RAF station in Linton-on-Ouse, according to its governing body’s board papers.

Plans to move up to 1,500 men aged 18-40 to the small village have proven controversial, with residents expressing concerns about the impact on local services and Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake calling the proposal “absolutely wrong”. Hambleton Council has been considering legal action to stop the plan.

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About 60 men were due to move to Linton 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.

There has been local anger at the plans to locate hundreds of asylum seekers in the village.There has been local anger at the plans to locate hundreds of asylum seekers in the village.
There has been local anger at the plans to locate hundreds of asylum seekers in the village.

CCG papers, set to be discussed by health bosses on Thursday, state that planning work is continuing despite the delay.

Primary care services include GPs and pharmacies, and the CCG is also looking to provide dental and optometry services at Linton.

“This is specifically to avoid local primary care services being required to offer support for this service user group, which they do not have the resources to deliver now, with minimal time to enter into recruitment plans,” the papers state.

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The local medical centre and primary care network have decided not to offer services “due to their own workforce pressures and focus on recovery following the impact and continued effect of Covid 19"

The board papers state: “The local practice has a total registered population of 3,500 patients and supporting this cohort was not realistically achievable for them, given that over a 12 month period, with an average six month stay the service might also have 3,000+ service users requiring registration/deregistration, a detailed health assessment and support during their stay.”

The decommissioned base does already have a health suite on site.

The CCG said that, along with Serco and its health provider, it was “aiming to be ready by the end of June 2022”.

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The Home Office has outsourced the day-to-day management of the centre to contractor firm Serco.

But the papers go on to state: “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.”

'Inevitable' impact on local hospitals

The arrival of asylum seekers to the area will “inevitably” have an impact on hospitals and specialist services, the CCG has warned.

In addition to the primary care proposals, discussions have also taken place between the CCG and York Hospital to understand the impact the plans would have on secondary care, particularly pathology.

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“There will inevitably be an impact, but we will be discussing additional funding, to mitigate the risk with the Home Office and this has commenced,” the papers state.

The CCG is also working with the health provider and Serco to mitigate the impact on other NHS services such as NHS 111, ambulance call outs and urgent care.

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