Column for Ilford Recorder 16 January 2014

A BBC programme last week highlighted the terrible plight of a few destitute, marginalised individuals living in Ilford.  There is another story to be told, that of thousands of hardworking Ilford people, first, second or third generation immigrants struggling hard to do their best for their families and society, faced with rising bills and falling real wages, job insecurity and lack of affordable homes.   But in the current hysteria about European migration those issues do not receive the same prominence in national newspapers or the BBC.  Our National Health Service has always depended on recruiting doctors and nurses from other countries. In Parliament last week I pointed out that  Barking Havering and Redbridge Universities Hospitals NHS Trust has just eight consultants in post out of an establishment of 21 to cover both A&E departments at Queen’s and King George Hospitals. Their own report published in December says "The heavy reliance on locum staff is putting patients at risk of receiving suboptimal care. Joint work with other trusts has not achieved the desired results and additional work is underway, including recruiting staff from overseas.”     We do need action to stop immigrants being abused and exploited by stronger enforcement of the minimum wage, tougher measures by Councils  against "beds in sheds" and prosecution of "cash in hand" employers. Over a million British people live and work in other EU countries and receive benefits, health, education and other public services there.  The prosperity of our country and the continuation of the Single Market depends on free movement of workers within the European Union.

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