Row over Roma vaccine scheme

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Criticism of a vaccination scheme being rolled out to Sheffield’s Roma community has been dismissed as ‘a disgrace’.

A war of words has broken out between city leaders and South Yorkshire UKIP hopeful Jane Collins over public health measures to prevent the spread of hepatitis B among migrants.

Ms Collins, due to stand for European Parliament in May, hit out at public health bosses for awarding £134,000 to the programme in the next financial year.

She said: “This will come out of taxpayers’ pockets and the transient group could well then move away. Resources are finite and Sheffield people are struggling to make ends meet, yet here is another call on cash.

“We are expending money on a community that may not have been a net contributor in tax, but will be taking advantage of open EU borders.

“I appreciate hepatitis B is highly infectious and can see the need for screening and vaccinating the Roma community, but what should also be happening is others are screened for dangerous diseases before they are allowed to enter the UK.”

David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsbroough, has defended the need for the scheme, while Dr Margaret Ainger, a GP in Page Hall, where many of the migrants have settled, called the cost a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to spending on other public health problems.

Mr Blunkett said: “As recent statistics show, European migrants have a higher level of employment and a greater return of tax paid to services received than the indigenous population.

“Jumping on a bandwagon and confusing birth-rates with public health preventative measures is a disgrace.

“It smacks of the kind of distortions we’re used to from the BNP.”