Unemployment makes immigrants queue up for swine flu call centres

Their plight brings to fore the need for responsive, fair and effective migration and integration policies

22nd July 2009: Unemployed immigrants in the UK are lining up at emergency swine flu call centres to find a cure for their financial maladies.

The fact that hundreds of immigrants are applying, even though some of them can hardly speak English, has once again brought to the fore their desperation to find jobs in the days of recession.
It is already an open secret that migrants are turning away from Britain and Ireland, with hard to find jobs as the primary reason.

Only recently Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released figures, suggesting the number of workers arriving in the UK and Ireland from "EU 8" countries of Eastern Europe dropped by more than a half, compared with last year.

Their plight has also highlighted the need for responsive, fair and effective migration and integration policies, “that work and adjust to both good economic times and bad ones”.

The virus hotline is being launched this week. According to a Department of Health spokesman, “Some 1,500 call centre seats will be capable of answering over 200,000 calls a day which should equate to over a million calls a week.”

For the purpose, the immigrants even without medical training are queuing up, and landing up with the job for offering a swine flu diagnosis to the public, as the posts had to be filled quickly; and it entails the payment of minimum wage of just under £6 an hour.

The only requirement so far is proof of the date of birth. The process has also led to the issuance of warning of sorts. Michael Summers, vice-chairman of the Patients’ Association, has said allowing staff with no medical training to advise the public could be dangerous, especially when recommending the anti-viral drug Tamiflu.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham, on the other hand, said the National Pandemic Flu Service would enable people to get a quick swine flu diagnosis and gain access to Tamiflu. Phone-line would be up and running by the end of the week, subject to testing.

By Monika

Failed asylum seekers set to access free treatment under the NHS

Face-reading computers on way to reduce power bills