Yes, I know, we have limited resources, we don\’t want to have health tourism, we can\’t have open immigration and the welfare state, yes, I know the arguments:

The deportation of a Ghanaian woman with terminal cancer was defended by the head of the immigration service yesterday, who disclosed that there were hundreds of similarly difficult cases each year.

Lin Homer said that the removal of Ama Sumani, who was in hospital in Cardiff, back to Accra was heart-rending but not exceptional.

She spoke as The Lancet described the removal of Ms Sumani as atrocious barbarism. “To stop treating patients in the knowledge that they are being sent home to die is an unacceptable breach of the duties of any health professional,” it said. “The UK has committed an atrocious barbarism. It is time for doctors’ leaders to say so, forcefully and uncompromisingly.”

Ms Sumani, 39, suffers from malignant myeloma and was receiving dialysis at a hospital in Cardiff when she was taken by immigration officers and flown back home last week because her visa had expired. She left the hospital in a wheelchair accompanied by five immigration officials before being driven to Heathrow to board a flight to Accra last Wednesday.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said that he had spoken by telephone to Ms Sumani in her Accra hospital shortly before a hearing of the committee — at which he told Ms Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency: “Her health has deteriorated since she arrived in Ghana.”

A little bit more of the milk of human kindness (not that a bureaucracy can offer that of course) would have been appropriate. Sorry, for all my supposed economic rationality I would have said bugger it: treat her. While I\’m not a believer in the rationale for the New Testament certain of the lessons contained strike me as being true: our Samaritan didn\’t ask whether the near corpse at the roadside was a Jew or a Palestinian, did he?

27 thoughts on “Ach”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    It is typical of the British government. As it gets more incompetent and inefficient it exercises the vast powers it has in a brutal and harsh manner. Had we a properly working visa system this woman would have been caught and deported years earlier – and would not have cost the taxpayer as much in cancer treatment. Now I am not sure that is a good thing, but the moral cowardice implicit in this action is beneath contempt. However had she been released from hospital they would have never seen her again.

    Still there is a libertarian solution – all those that give a damn ought to club together to pay for her dialysis in Ghana.

  2. Come on, Tim: tell us who you would therefore deny the treatment to, to make it available to her. Justify that decision. Otherwise, you are indulging in a sentimental cop-out. The Samaritan did it at his own expense: you are proposng it be done at the expense of the patient who is denied the treatment. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You’ve undermined 95% of what you preach on this blog, just so you can assure yourself that you are a warm cuddly guy. Bah humbug! Just a more articulate version of Pollyanna.

    Tim adds: Indeed, I do point out those facts above. My “get out” would be that the costs of one (or a few hundred mentioned in the article) are trivial when set against the overall budget of £500 billion. Or perhaps that get out should be that I am in fact mawkish in the face of real human suffering (as opposed to trivia like inequality).

  3. “Come on, Tim: tell us who you would therefore deny the treatment to, to make it available to her.”

    That’s easy: anyone sufficiently inhuman to believe she should be denied the treatment.

  4. Is dearieme falling for the ‘fixed quantity of treatment’ fallacy? It’s entirely possible for the NHS to treat this woman as well as all of the others requiring it. They simply need to concentrate resources where they’re necessary, instead of on useless administrators, £1000 artificial flowers for reception areas, and health spa away-days for staff (all reliably reported at my local PCT).

  5. “It’s entirely possible for the NHS to treat this woman as well as all of the others requiring it. “

    Except that she has no right to the treatment, that is, as her visa has expired.

    Or would you treat everyone in need around the world if they could just get to the UK somehow for a short timespan? My, that’s going to increase Gerbil Warmening, isn’t it?

    Alternatively, you can explain to the poor peasant in Bolivia how he isn’t entitled to the wonderful free NHS treatment because he can’t afford the plane fare. That’ll be fun…

    “…anyone sufficiently inhuman to believe she should be denied the treatment.”

    Ah, socialists. So cavalier with everyone else’s money…

  6. “They simply need to concentrate resources where they’re necessary, instead of on useless administrators, £1000 artificial flowers for reception areas, and health spa away-days for staff (all reliably reported at my local PCT).”

    I ca’t disagree with this, they certainly need to do all those things.

    But the money saved should be spent on those entitled to it by virtue of residence, not expired-visa health tourists.

  7. Not to say that there isn’t a certain joy in seeing the professional journal of a proverbially filthy rich profession urge the government to make barmaids in Blackburn pay for their moral grandstanding, but JuliaM has a point. If we’re all ‘cityzens of the whirled’ , why restrict our altruism to those rich enough to get here ? Wouldn’t it be even more moral to help out those too poor or sick to get here in the first place ?

    Seriously: even if you want to heal the world, if the money it would cost to delay the death of this woman was spent on things like vaccines and rehydration sachets, many lives could be saved. Why privilege one over the other ?

    All of the above is garbage though: this is just further proof that the immigration authorities have been captured by the open borders lobby. It’s always a dying woman/young child/kitten that gets deported. If you’re an Islamofascist with a crack habit and six rape convictions, you’re safe forever. It’s all about discrediting the whole idea of border security.

  8. “…this is just further proof that the immigration authorities have been captured by the open borders lobby. “

    I doubt anything so active as capturing was required, they probably surrendered immediately…

  9. Before the NHS we had hospitals run by charities. Run for the poor and the needy. Shame she choose the wrong century to turn up in the UK.

  10. “Before the NHS we had hospitals run by charities. Run for the poor and the needy. Shame she choose the wrong century to turn up in the UK.”

    Funny how the Left bleat about fairness, help for disadvantaged, etc., yet when they’ve been in power a few years they have a nasty vicious streak that takes it out on… the poor and the disadvantaged.

    Maybe they are just plain nasty, yet wealthier people are able to dodge them better. Either way, the Left is in practice a scourge.

  11. “Ah, socialists. So cavalier with everyone else’s money…”

    Hmm. I’m not sure you’d agree with that if you saw my tax bill – just, I’d rather subsidise this woman’s treatment than that of any of the c***s on this thread who’re happy for her to die. She’s done nothing to make me despise her; they have.

    “Shame she choose the wrong century to turn up in the UK.”

    True, but not for the reasons you think.

    The NHS was happy (and allowed) to treat this woman, but the Home Office’s desire to throw her out of the country took precedence.

    In the 19th and early 20th century, when we had no border controls or requirement for visas, she’d have been left here just fine.

    Tim adds: But, to be annoyingly pendantic, no cancer treatment nor dialysis for her to have while here.

  12. So the score is:
    Tim – admits to being mawkish.
    Ian Bennet – wishes the problem away.
    john b – would rather that some anonymous die instead i.e. intellectual coward. Feeble, chaps, feeble; hearts-on-sleeve rubbish.
    Of course, people could put their hands in their pockets and pay for her treatment privately; that would actually be a solution rather than a self-regarding pose.

  13. “I’d rather subsidise this woman’s treatment than that of any of the c***s on this thread who’re happy for her to die. She’s done nothing to make me despise her; they have.”

    Well, luckily for you, our NHS system doesn’t (yet…) decide on the basis of who is more likeable. It decides on the basis of who is entitled, unluckily for this lady (and all the other billions around the world). She isn’t entitled. End of.

    “Of course, people could put their hands in their pockets and pay for her treatment privately”

    Yes. No objection to that. I wonder how many of the john b types out there have done so? Of course, none will have. They only put their hands in other people’s pockets…

  14. Everyone quotes Stalin “A single death is a tragedy, are million deaths is a statistic”, but it takes johnb to explain it. The million are anonymous and therefore don’t count; the single death involves someone he read about in the paper and who is therefore more real to him. Shrewd chap, Stalin; he knew the evil such people are prone too.

  15. Timmy, our Samaritan used his own resources to help the unfortunate. He didn’t call an ambulance, staff, and hospital that everyone else was expected to pay for.

    As for who should be disenfranchised to make way for this patient….
    “That’s easy: anyone sufficiently inhuman to believe she should be denied the treatment.”

    Fine John B. I would be only too happy to opt out of the NHS. Especially paying for the bugger. I could use my refund for private medical cover, and at least I would know where I stand.

    (And so would you. You’d be standing at the end of the queue of people who shouldn’t be denied a poxy rock bottom third world quality of treatment. )

    When did you last go into Sainsburys, buy a sliced loaf, and pay for it, only to have the checkout wife hand you the crust ends and give the rest away to some more deserving jerk standing outside? More to the point, would you ever go back to Sainsburys again?

  16. “Well, luckily for you, our NHS system doesn’t (yet…) decide on the basis of who is more likeable. It decides on the basis of who is entitled”

    I dispute “yet”. Smokers, the obese and middle class people with money to spend on extra drugs are already being disentitled.

  17. Our wonderful NHS even sets traps for the unwary. Anyone needing hip replacement tends to go on a waiting list. Patients in that position almost always gain weight (try getting exercise when your joints are unserviceable). Then they are threatened with denial of surgery unless they lose weight. heads they win, tails you lose.

    Now imagine going into Sainsbury’s, buying a wholemeal loaf, paying for it, and then having it snatched away from the checkout wife who gives it to someone else because you are overweight…..

  18. “I dispute “yet”. Smokers, the obese and middle class people with money to spend on extra drugs are already being disentitled.”

    Yeah, I had that in mind, but left the comment as was because I think there is still a ‘postcoode lottery’ where this is concerned – not all health authorities take that line, do they?

    Yet….

  19. Everyone quotes Stalin “A single death is a tragedy, are million deaths is a statistic”, but it takes johnb to explain it. The million are anonymous and therefore don’t count; the single death involves someone he read about in the paper and who is therefore more real to him.

    Who are these million that I’m happy to see die? I believe nobody who is in the UK should be denied treatment on the basis of their ethnic origin. In an ideal world that would also apply to people who aren’t in the UK, but we’ve got rather less power to make that happen.

  20. Timmy, our Samaritan used his own resources to help the unfortunate. He didn’t call an ambulance, staff, and hospital that everyone else was expected to pay for.

    The point about the Samaritan story is that *that is what it is like to behave in a morally good way*. I understand that you’re a selfish bastard who would probably have mocked the Samaritan for wasting his time on some foreigner who didn’t have any right to treatment, but I’d rather live in a society that behaves like the Samaritan than a society that behaves like you.

  21. “I believe nobody who is in the UK should be denied treatment on the basis of their ethnic origin.”

    There you go, poor dispossessed people of the world – just make it to the shores of the UK and win the health lottery!

    And she was not denied treatment on the basis of her ethnic origin, but on the basis that she was not a resident of the UK, and therefore not entitled to the treatment.

    If she’d been a Mayan, Chinese woman, Icelandic woman or a bloody Canadian, the answer would have been the same. So the subtle insinuation that the decision was taken on racist grounds is grounded in as much reality as the rest of your ‘argument’…

    “I understand that you’re a selfish bastard ….I’d rather live in a society that behaves like the Samaritan than a society that behaves like you.”

    Translation: “Wah! You are all big meanies! Why can’t I have a blue pony with wings! Wah!”

    I think we’d all be delighted to see people with your grasp of economics go set up your own society somewhere, where you can run things to your own ‘moral code’.

    I give it three weeks, tops…

  22. I’ve got a degree in economics. I’ve not yet seen any economic insight from you that goes beyond chapter 1 of the GCSE textbook.

    Do you think there might, just possibly, be a small chance that if we disagree, it might not be because I’m unaware that the world consists of infinite wants and scarce resources?

    In this particular case, given that it is difficult to acquire a UK tourist visa if you are from a third-world country, and that it is an arduous and expensive process to smuggle yourself into the UK even if you’re able-bodied, I don’t think there’s any serious likelihood that allowing illegal immigrants with illnesses that would be fatal if untreated to stay until they’ve been treated would lead to a massive influx of health tourists.

    (data point in my favour: there has not been a massive influx of central European health tourists, despite the fact that there are no restrictions at all on them coming here and receiving treatment).

  23. “…it might not be because I’m unaware that the world consists of infinite wants and scarce resources?”

    So if you are that aware of it, on what basis do you justify giving this scarce resource to this one case, and not the others.

    Is it, as dearieme pointed out, because this one has been in the papers, and the others have not? My, how shallow…

    “I don’t think there’s any serious likelihood that allowing illegal immigrants with illnesses that would be fatal if untreated to stay until they’ve been treated would lead to a massive influx of health tourists.”

    You should really have stopped that sentence after the ‘I don’t think’ bit….

    I don’t care what you and all the other left-wing bleeding hearts think – put up your own money if you feel so inclined, not mine.

    There’s been no outcry in the papers, no protest march, no philanthopist coming forward with funds (besides, after the McCann debacle, I think philanthopists are less easily hoodwinked) – I think I’m safe in saying that the majority feels less like you and more like me.

  24. 1) who the hell are these “others” I think shouldn’t be treated? If you mean “people abroad” then yes, fair enough, I do think we have more responsibility to not kill people who are in the UK (even if illegally) than to stop people outside the UK being killed. Similarly, if someone starves to death in a lifeboat, that’s a tragedy; if someone marooned in a lifeboat comes aboard my ship and I throw them overboard rather than feed them, then I’m a murdering bastard.

    2) sorry, I phrased that in an insufficiently authoritative fashion. What I meant to say is “there is clear and strong evidence that allowing illegal immigrants with illnesses that would be fatal if untreated to stay until they’ve been treated would *not* lead to a massive influx of health tourists, and anyone who says otherwise is a scaremongering eejit”.

    3) Funds aren’t the problem here, so it’s a total red herring – unless you’re a Russian crook, you can’t buy your way out of deportation.

    4) if the majority of people are as stupid and venal as you, then God help us all.

  25. “if someone marooned in a lifeboat comes aboard my ship and I throw them overboard rather than feed them, then I’m a murdering bastard.”

    She wasn’t a helpless asylum seeker, she was on a visa. Not quite the same category, is it..?

    “…anyone who says otherwise is a scaremongering eejit”

    That’s it! Stamp your feet! Makes your argument’ so more authoritative.

    “Funds aren’t the problem here”

    Really…? Dialysis is free in Left Wing Fairyland, is it..? It isn’t in Ghana.

    “if the majority of people are as stupid and venal as you, then God help us all”

    Ah, the eternal cry of the thwarted leftie: “The
    people aren’t swallowing my story. We need to change the people…”

  26. “…unless you’re a Russian crook, you can’t buy your way out of deportation.”

    Deportation has been carried out- that ship has well and truly sailed. But she still needs funding.

    So put your hand in your pocket, if it affects you so much. Just don’t put your hand in mine, or anyone elses’.

  27. John B,
    I understand that you are a selfish narcissistic bastard who wants to make himself feel compassionate by impounding other peoples money and dispensing it around as if it was yours to give.
    Spend your own money, by all means, however you see fit. But stop trying to shanghai other peoples money. That doesn’t make you a philanthropist, it makes you an extortionist.

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