On average, a 10 percentage point increase in migrants living in a local authority has been found to reduce waiting times for outpatient referrals by nine days, according to latest research.
Researchers from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the Blavatnik School of Government used immigration data from 141 local authorities in England, merged with administrative information from the Hospital Episode Statistics to draw direct and evidence-based correlations between immigration figures and waiting times in the NHS.
While outpatient referrals were seen to decrease with an increase in immigration to an area, the effects can be very different in deprived areas, with native internal migration (often triggered by immigration inflows) found to increase NHS waiting times.
The authors found no evidence that immigration affects waiting times in A&E and in elective care.
The "healthy immigration effect", where migrants tend to be young and healthy upon arrival, is noted as a potential explanation for the reduced demand for NHS services, in addition to an increased likelihood of natives moving from an area of increased immigration and accessing health services in different local authorities.
About the authors:
Osea Giuntella is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Economics at Nuffield College and the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. Catia Nicodemo is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Service Economics and Organisation, Department of Primary Health Care and the Department of Economics, University of Oxford. Carlos Vargas-Silva is an Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford.
The report has been covered in The Economist