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Ukraine refugee, 7, returns to warzone for dentist appointment to beat NHS delay

Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A seven-year-old Ukrainian girl travelled with her mum back to Ukraine for dental treatment because the NHS waiting list was so long.

Lisa and her mum Oksana Martirosova had been living as refugees in Aberdeenshire. Getting to a dentist in Ukraine involved a flight to Poland and then a fifteen hour bus journey across the war-torn country.

“Lisa’s pain was terrible, she couldn’t wait several months on antibiotics. She was really afraid and trembling, and every day I had to give her painkillers,” said Ms Martirosova speaking to the Press & Journal.

She added: “In our country, this would be an emergency and you would go to the hospital the same day or the next day, not after several months. It is crazy because this can lead to very difficult problems. I don’t know how people with small children live with this problem.”

“The doctors are good here, but it is bad because of the queues.”

Waiting times for NHS services have spiralled across the UK, leading some to declare that “The system is broken.”

The situation is the same in Scotland, where the health service is controlled by Scotland’s devolved government. A recent report by Public Health Scotland found that 6,856 people had been waiting for over two years for hospital treatment.

There are some signs of improvement. In September 2022 the number of people who had waited more than two years stood at 7,282.

However, many still see the situation as unacceptable.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror Labour MSP Michael Marra, who helped Ms Martirosova’s family obtain visas last year, blamed the situation on the SNP government’s Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf.

“Humza Yousaf’s disastrous stewardship of the NHS has created a desperate situation for far too many. It is simply astounding that refugees have had to return to a war-torn country for medical treatment.”

“Astronomical wait times have forced people to the extremes in order to get the treatment they urgently need.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman told The Mirror: “The health and welfare of all displaced Ukrainians remains a priority.”

“However, the challenges the NHS is facing are not unique to Scotland and are being felt across the rest of the UK.”

“The Scottish Government remains focused on supporting services to address and alleviate these pressures and we are working to clear the backlog of planned care appointments caused by the pandemic.”