Our response to the war in Ukraine

All of us at Leukaemia Care were devastated to hear about the outbreak of war in Ukraine. As a leukaemia charity, we are also additionally concerned about those who were undergoing treatment for leukaemia in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with everyone affected.

We have seen requests for support from people affected by leukaemia and wishing to travel to the UK to continue their treatment. When war broke out, family members of people living in Ukraine reached out to us to understand the rights of the person. We have provided information about the UK’s Ukraine Family Visa Scheme, as well as information about treatment and getting further charity support in Poland, should they decide not to travel. 

I’m thinking of coming to the UK for treatment – what help can you give me?

In a time of crisis such as this, we know that it’s hard to find the information you need from a reliable source or to be able to find the time or energy to take it all in. But did you know – Leukaemia Care have been working with people travelling to the UK for leukaemia treatment for many years, through our advocacy service. We wanted to take this opportunity to share how we can help, to ensure everyone affected by war, or travelling to the UK for any other reason, gets the support they need.

Here’s what our advocacy caseworker can do to help:

  • Provide reliable sources of information about visas or entry requirements
  • Provide information about your rights to care on the NHS upon arrival in the UK
  • Help you find appropriate sources of legal advice 
  • Signpost you to sources of support for financial or housing issues
  • Help you find specialist support if you are an asylum seeker or refugee
  • Assist with information on your rights to medical care if you are already in the UK on a limited time visa (e.g. student or work-related)
  • Direct you to support in your current location or from international organisations, if you decide not to travel to the UK or are unable to.

I can’t afford treatment in my home country – can I come to the UK for treatment?

A common question we get is whether someone can come to the UK for treatment which they cannot afford to pay for in their current location. Whether or not you are entitled to to NHS care can be complicated. It depends on:

  • Why you are coming to the UK and for how long. 
    • NHS care is only free to those “ordinarily resident” in the UK. For people coming from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), this means you have an immigration status of “indefinite leave to remain” in the UK.
    • People travelling from the EU can get some planned treatment for free in the UK. You must obtain permission beforehand. 
    • There are a number of people who are exempt from paying for NHS care, including refugees, those seeking ayslum and victims of modern slavery. 
  • Whether or not you have paid the immigration surcharge, if you are coming to the UK on a visa.
    • If you are coming to the UK only for a set period of time (e.g. for work or as a student), you can pay a fee to access NHS care. This is not optional.
  • If you are a visitor to the UK.
    • If you are visiting for leisure purposes, you are not entitled to free NHS care. Travel insurance is unlikely to cover you if you travel for planned treatment (i.e. treatment you already knew you needed before you travelled). 

More information on any of the above points can be found here.

For Ukrainians travelling to the UK under the Home for Ukrainians scheme, you are granted leave to remain for 3 years, during which time your NHS care is free. For more information, please see this link here.

I’m supporting someone who has travelled to the UK, how can you help me?

Looking after someone affected by leukaemia can also take it’s toll on you. Whether you are a family or friend of someone abroad, are a support or caseworker, or are supporting someone through a formal scheme like Homes for Ukraine, we are here to support you. 

Care and treatment for leukaemia can be urgent, but it may also not be. There are many types of leukaemia, and the urgency depends on the type of leukaemia, as well as how well the person is. If you have any questions about the health of someone you are supporting with leukaemia, we are also able to help you find the information you need. You may also be eligible for emotional, psychological or financial support; get in touch with us to find out more.

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