THE Home Office considered drafting in overseas workers using a visa waiver in the event of an outbreak of an infectious disease on the Bibby Stockholm barge, according to a report.

The barge is moored in Portland, Dorset and was initially opened on August 7 although the first people on the vessel were evacuated just four days later when legionella was found in the water pipes.

Freedom of information disclosures obtained by The Guardian between local and national health officials and the Home Office’s contractors for the barge (below) – Landry & Kling – reveal references to visa-waiver plans for foreign workers.

Officials though they might be needed in the event of a significant outbreak of an infectious condition on the barge.

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After considering the idea, the documents confirm the Home Office decided not to go ahead with the plans and sources confirmed to the newspaper there were no plans for a visa-waiver scheme.

The notes of meetings state: “Visa waiver scheme being worked on by Home Office to cover surge staffing in the event of an outbreak. Visa fast track approved, waiver to be discussed (June 14).”

The disclosures also raise concerns about how an outbreak would be handled on the barge (below) with various health professionals involved in the meetings raising concerns about the ability of local health services to cope with such outbreaks.

While the Home Office had arranged for healthcare workers to be on board five days a week and a GP to be there once a week to take pressure of NHS services, a significant outbreak would have meant local services would need to get involved.

The National: The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge is moored at Portland Port in Dorset (James Manning/PA)

One senior doctor involved in the meetings said: “I have serious concerns about the capacity for existing primary care services to manage significant outbreaks, especially in the winter months.”

Another health official added: “This would potentially be a large, destabilising amount of work for the local GP service in the event of a significant outbreak.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains of the utmost priority.

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“The Home Office and our contractors are following all protocols and advice from Dorset council’s environmental health team, the UK Health Security Agency and Dorset NHS, who we continue to work closely with.”

Sources in the Home Office told the paper there were no plans for a visa waiver or any arrangements being agreed for health workers in case of an outbreak.