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Immigration is placing a huge strain on the NHS reveals a report highlighting a surge in seriously ill children being admitted to hospital.

Figures reveal a 14.3 per cent rise in youngsters born to immigrants being treated in paediatric intensive care since 2004 in England – when former Prime Minister Tony Blair threw open Britain’s borders to the Eastern Bloc.

The former Labour leader’s relaxed immigration controls allowed an influx of migrants from 10 new EU states, including Poland and Lithuania.

The number of under 15s admitted to intensive care units in England soared by almost 15 per cent in the decade after according to this new data.  They have also gone up by just over two per cent in Wales. 

The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems. 

Around 1.4 million Eastern Europeans are now living in Britain and many are of child-bearing age. 

Dr Peter Davis, a paediatric researcher at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, has revealed the largest increase in children’s admissions to paediatric care units has occurred in regions with the ‘greatest numbers of live births to mothers of Eastern European origin’. 

The number of people living in Britain will rise by 3.6 million – 5.5 per cent – in a decade and the country will be home to 70 million by mid 2029

Where had the highest jump in cases? 

Admission rates were particularly high in five regions of England, with the South Central region top of the league table, Dr Davis added.

Here, admissions rose by more than 43 per cent, followed by London (30.8 per cent) and East of England (22.7 per cent).

The West Midlands region recorded an increase of 22.5 per cent, coming just above the South East Coast (11.9 per cent).

These five areas also had the highest numbers of foreign-born mothers, particularly from Eastern Europe, the figures showed. 


  • South Central – 43%
  • London – 30.8%
  • East of England – 22.7%
  • West Midlands – 22.5%
  • South East – 11.9% 

Other regions showed little or no change, the researchers concluded. 

Infants under the age of one made up almost half the total 12,065 annual admissions to intensive care units in England in 2013, the figures showed.

Overall, the steepest rise (19.6 per cent) were among infants under the age of five, with breathing and cardiovascular problems behind most of the cases.

The statistics also highlighted a significant 7.8 per cent jump in admissions for children between the ages of six and 15. 

How was the data collected? 

The researchers analysed data from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network for children up to the age of 15 between 2004 and 2013. 

Published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, the research pointed out from 2009 onwards the NHS has been facing acute financial strain.


 Statistics released earlier this year revealed the number of Polish citizens living in Britain has passed one million for the first time.

Some 1,000,200 people from the Eastern European country have set up home in the UK, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

And nearly all of them have come since Tony Blair’s government threw open Britain’s borders to the Eastern Bloc in 2004.

Back then, there were only 69,000 Poles residing in the UK. Now they have overtaken Indians, the Irish and former colonies by having the largest foreign community in Britain.

It means Poles now account for around one in six of the country’s 6million non-UK nationals.

The number of Polish passport holders – as opposed to those born there – jumped by 86,000 last year.

The ONS report once again signalled the end of the legacy of migration from the days of the British Empire. Poland was followed by India (362,000), the Republic of Ireland (335,000), Romania (328,000) and Italy (233,000). There were 833,000 Indian-born residents in the UK – but 57 per cent have taken British citizenship.

The report concluded: ‘There has also been major migration from Eastern Europe, particularly mothers of Polish origin.’

Polish-born mothers accounted for three per cent of all live births in England and Wales by 2013, soaring by ten-fold in a decade, figures showed.

A surge in cases 

The report also showed more children were admitted to intensive care than would be expected from the birth rate from 2009 onwards.

But whatever the reasons, the rise in the number of children with chronic complex conditions looks set to continue, they said.

This would put further strain on an already overstretched health service working at breaking point, the team of researchers implied.

Writing in the journal, they concluded: ‘Increasing numbers of critically ill children… will prove challenging… as increased demand potentially outstrips resource.’

Dr Davis added: ‘Given the increasing number of children with chronic, complex conditions, is a challenge that is likely to continue into the future.’


 Medical analysts have previously warned the health service faces a bill of an extra £1billion every year to treat immigrants and asylum seekers.

Taxpayers are likely to face a huge and ever-increasing burden because of the growing flow of migrants from countries where complex infectious diseases are common, they said.

Their report highlighted Aids, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis as diseases that are spreading fast in countries from which large numbers of immigrants come to Britain.

The cost to the NHS of treating new arrivals with Aids alone threatens to amount to £900million each year, according to the analysis for the Migrationwatch UK think tank.

It called for screening of immigrants before they leave their home countries to stop those with infections coming to Britain.

Asylum seekers should be given health tests on arrival to reduce the risk of spreading infection, the report added.

Roger Williams, professor of hepatology at University College London and a Migrationwatch adviser, said: “The potential cost to the NHS is enormous in both financial and staff terms. It is absolutely essential that firm action be taken to prevent any further increase in this growing pool of potential infection.

“Even a fraction of the money spent in the UK would treat a far larger number of patients in their own countries.” 



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