Some Ukrainian refugees living in Britain would rather risk travelling to and from their homeland to receive medical treatment, than wait to access the National Health Service (NHS)
A report by British news outlet inews cited a number of instances where those who had fled the conflict in Ukraine gave up on the long wait times to access medical care in Britain, choosing instead to take a perilous 24-hour journey to the war-torn country to be seen by a medical professional almost immediately.
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Gulf Insider reports: inews detailed the account of one refugee, Maiia Habruk, who reportedly fled the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv last year to settle in southeast London. After suffering a severe toothache, she logged her symptoms on an NHS chatroom and was told to expect a call from a medical professional the following day. This never happened, so she went to her local Accident and Emergency (A&E) department, also without success.
“After waiting four hours, the doctor didn’t even look at me, and she also told me to take paracetamol. Again, it didn’t help, and I was still in severe pain,” Ms. Habruk told the news outlet.
She ended up traveling back to Ukraine via Poland where she says she was seen by a doctor immediately.
“I was told it was an urgent issue with my wisdom tooth and that I had to have an extraction immediately.
“I do not in any way want to criticize the NHS. I think it’s amazing that everyone can get help for free,” she added.
The Ukrainian woman told the news outlet she knew of three others residing in London who had opted to return to war-torn Ukraine for medical treatment instead of waiting to use Britain’s public healthcare system.
Another Ukrainian woman living in the Scottish city of Glasgow, whose healthcare system is managed by the devolved left-wing Scottish government, also reportedly traveled home for medical treatment, according to Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, who raised the issue with Scotland’s First Minister earlier this week.
Some members of the public took to social media to question whether it is right that those choosing to make trips back to Ukraine remain entitled to claim asylum in Britain.
“If they are able to and willing also to return to Ukraine then they weren’t a ‘refugee,’” wrote one social media user, while another said:
“If the refugee can go home to see their doctor, then why are they in the U.K.? If it’s safe to see your doctor, it can’t be unsafe to live there too.”
A third added:
“Odd definition of refugee if they’re going back to their native country for appointments. Very odd indeed!”
The U.K.’s Conservative government announced in March last year that Ukrainians arriving in England are eligible for free-of-charge access to NHS healthcare, including GP and nurse consultations, hospital services, and urgent care centers.
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