Ukraine refugee influx will make NHS waiting lists longer, caller fumes

26 March 2022, 17:29

By Seán Hickey

David Lammy slates this caller for claiming that the influx of Ukrainian refugees will make life tougher for people already struggling in Britain.

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Robert in Goring phoned in to confess he was getting "a little bit browned off" by the criticism of the government's policy towards Ukrainian refugees.

Read more: London Stands with Ukraine: Protesters show support one month on from Russian invasion

While most European nations have waived visa requirements for Ukrainians fleeing Vladmir Putin's invasion, the UK has kept a strict visa system in place, with Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming this is to prevent Russia from "infiltrating" the UK.

Instead, the government have implemented the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which allows Brits to house refugees fleeing the war, and have extended visa eligibilities to extended family of people living in the UK, along with opening a sponsorship scheme.

Read more: Minister doesn't know how long Ukraine refugee process takes

"What worries me is we don't seem to be able to handle the problems we've already got," the caller told David Lammy, going on to reference rising poverty levels amid the cost of living crisis, along with lengthening NHS waiting lists.

David took exception to the caller's comments: "The people who are fleeing are mobile and active. They are young, they are women, they are children. They're not people who are going to be waiting in the NHS for cancer treatment!"

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"Most of us struggle to get an appointment to see a doctor," the caller countered, reiterating his main concern that Ukrainians will put strain on NHS waiting lists.

"If you had tanks rolling down your road, if you had a gun to your head or your child's head, would [you not hope that the French would let you in[? Or let your grandchild in? Or do you think they'd be saying 'oh my God, I've to wait three weeks for a doctor!'?"

"I'm trying to paint a picture of what the real world is like," Robert replied.

"In the real world there's five million people waiting for back operations in the NHS alone. There's something like 30,000 food banks."

"A lot of that is because of austerity! Because of this government!" David clapped back, taken by surprise by the caller's views.

"Bring in the children" Robert said, reiterating his initial point, but stressed to David that the women should stay out of the UK, concluding "you've got to be logistical about this."