Health bosses are to open a second health centre for asylum seekers in the region. They believe the new GP surgery for refugees will help lift the burden on main stream doctors' surgeries.

The centre - known as the Arrival Practice - is due to open in Stockton next Thursday.

Officials said the medical facility - which will be equipped to deal with a wide range of medical complaints - would play an important role in helping refugees hoping to settle in the region.

And as well as ensuring that refugees have proper health checks, it should help to free up the consultation rooms of Teesside GPs.

When the Arrival practice opens next Thursday it will follow in the footsteps of the Haven practice which opened in Middlesbrough last October.

Both practices concentrate on meeting the often complex health needs of newly arrived refugees. Refugees are expected to be transferred to ordinary GPs after six months.

As someone who has worked as with refugees as a volunteer, Dr Paul Williams is someone who cares passionately about people who have often fled oppression.

"Up to 30 per cent of refugees who come to this country have been tortured, imprisoned or raped. Almost all of them have been through a tough time, nobody makes a decision to leave their country of origin lightly," he said.

Dr Williams described the decision by North Tees Primary Care Trust to set up the special surgery as a "win, win" solution.

"This way the people of Stockton should be able to see their GPs more easily and the refugees will get the health care they need," he added.

Dr Williams heads a team which includes a practice manager, two part-time specialist nurses and reception staff.

Three-quarters of the £200,000 annual cost of the practice is coming from ear-marked national funding.

North Tees PCT chief executive Christine Willis, said: "It will be of immense help to other doctors in North Tees whose patients will also ultimately benefit from the reduction in workload that this practice will bring."

It is hoped that it will also help to attract newly qualified GPs.