TUV leader Jim Allister says revelations that interpreter services cost the local health service almost £.5 million is a major pro-brexit argument.
The North Antrim MLA said: “The strain that immigration puts on essential services is something which is frequently cited as an issue of concern on the doorstep. While the Remain campaign likes to falsely portray any such sensible questioning as racist and scaremongering, figures which I have today obtained in answer to an Assembly question to the Health Minister illustrate that this is a very real issue.
“Having asked what the current cost of providing interpreter services in the Health Service is I am advised that in 2015/16 it was a staggering £3,402,745.
“I am not suggesting that people already here who cannot speak English should not be provided with such a service - though learning the indigenous language is an imperative to assimilation - but it is the height of folly to compound the problem by remaining within the EU, which has placed such a strain on our health service, because of its open door policy. These interpretation costs have spiralled by over 50% in just 4 years.
“For as long as we remain within the EU we are unable to control our borders with the result that pressure – such as the demand for interpreter services – will increase.
“While our health service unquestionably benefits form the services of people who come to the UK from the EU and beyond to work as doctors and nurses this would continue with Brexit under a points based system for immigration, which would mean vacancies are filled on merit and need.”