We are currently in the process of implementing our commitment to introduce targeted health screening for tuberculosis (TB) in high-risk countries at the entry clearance stage. In the six countries where we implemented the pre-entry TB screening programme last year on a pilot basis all those applying to come to the United Kingdom for over six months have been screened, using a protocol based on x-rays and sputum smears. From the commencement of pre-entry TB screening in October 2005 until the end of October 2006, 27,807 people were subject to TB screening. Of these, 14 were found to have infectious TB. Applicants with infectious TB are not considered for entry clearance until they have successfully completed a course of treatment.
My hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality announced on 21 November 2006, Official Report, column 51WS, the extension of these controls to a further group of countries with a high incidence of TB as defined by the World Health Organization. Until these pre-entry controls are in place Government policy is that all those entering the UK from these countries, and from other countries with a high incidence of TB not covered by the pre-entry screening programme, for over six months should be routinely referred for medical examination for TB.
The Health Protection Agency reports that the number of people x-rayed at Heathrow and Gatwick airports was 62,301 in 2002-03, 72,510 in 2003-04 and 76,560 in 2004-05. Approximately 100 of the people who were x-rayed in 2004-05 were subsequently found to have TB. Any person thought on the basis of the examination at the port to have TB is referred to the national health service, and those who are subsequently diagnosed with TB are offered treatment.
The Health Protection Agency reports that there are six whole-time equivalent medical staff working in the health control unit (HCU) at Heathrow airport, and two whole-time equivalent medical staff working in the HCU at Gatwick airport, where there is also on-call cover overnight provided by medical staff who are not based on site. These are the only points of entry to England equipped for x-ray examination. The term medical staff here refers to doctors and radiologists. There are also two radiographers working at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.
At Heathrow, medical staff are on duty at one terminal for 24 hours per day and at two of the other terminals for 12 hours per day. At Gatwick, medical staff are on duty for 12 hours a day, with on-call cover overnight.