If You Risk Your Life in the British Army, Our NHS Should Take Care of You | Danny Earnshaw

A former British Army soldier has been forced to crowdfund donations for his life-saving brain surgery after his immigration status made him ineligible for free NHS healthcare.

Taitusi Ratacaucau, of Fijian descent, spent over a decade in the Royal Logisitics Corps and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, when Taitusi collapsed earlier this month as a result of a brain tumour, the NHS would not offer him free healthcare as he did not have leave to remain. And so he was left to foot the bill of around £30,000.

How and why could this be the case?

I spoke to the Home Office this morning who deferred responsibility to the Ministry of Defence. The MoD said they “don’t comment on specific cases”. And that’s it.

So a man who fought for this country and is in urgent need of brain surgery does not even get the respect to have his case or immigration status reviewed or commented on by this government. Could it not just be a simple case of providing evidence of having served in the British Army and making an exception? Of course not. What planet are these pencil pushers on?

Just last week the same Government offered free NHS healthcare to all foreign NHS workers. At the time I said it was the decision to make as evidently not all NHS workers are essential, nor are they all frontline staff.

So while the government is rewarding all migrant NHS workers that have (supposedly) fought coronavirus, the same government is specifically not providing healthcare to foreign born British Army soldiers who have fought against the likes of the Taliban, Al Queda and ISIS.

Compared to the thousands of foreign NHS workers who have, as of last week, received free healthcare, the government somehow can’t seem to find £30,000 for a man who has contributed into the UK system for decades and fought for its army.

Even Johnny Mercer MP, the Minister for Veterans, said he was “looking into the case” when this was first reported. But where is Mr Mercer now? What was the conclusion of his investigation? And please don’t fob me off with not commenting on individual cases.

It’s as simple as this: if you have fought for Britain, if you have offered your life to protect those in the United Kingdom, and you have done so under the Union Flag, you sure as hell should be first in line for to use this country’s NHS.

It is beyond comprehension that this government could make such a flippant, romantic gesture to all foreign NHS workers – most of whom are not on the frontline – as if it was the moral thing to do given the pandemic. And yet ex-servicemen who have fought on a different frontline don’t even get a look in.

This country hasn’t respected its armed forces and its veterans for a very long time. It’s time we changed that, and ensure we include all British Army soldiers of all backgrounds and heritages.

Photo taken from the Guardian.

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