12 January, 2008


Hard cases make bad policy

The case of Ama Sumani has been heavily promoted on the BBC, certainly on the World Service and on Radio 4's Today programme. The slant given is that a callous UK Government is denying this poor woman treatment for her cancer, deporting her to her homeland of Ghana to die.

This piece, strangely enough on the BBC's own site, gives a little more depth. The radio reports implied that Ms Sumani was here on a student visa, which had run out. The detail is a little more complex. Ms Sumani arrived on a visitor's visa, which she subsequently converted to a student visa, having enrolled on a course. Her lack of English prevented her from taking the course and instead she took up illegal work. This in itself is suspicious. She and the college administrators must have known from the outset that she was incapable of doing the course. She was only found out by the ever-vigilant Border and Immigration Agency when, returning from a visit to Ghana for her husband's funeral, she attempted to re-enter the country.

In Accra, UK immigration officials accompanying Ms Sumani back to Ghana have offered to foot the bill for three months' treatment at an Accra hospital, some £3000. The Ghanaian hospital has refused to admit her, on the grounds that she has no funding for longer-term treatment. Forgive me for being a cynical old Hector, but that sounds like brinkmanship to me, a bit of a negotiating ploy to squeeze more moolah out of Whitey. If they admit her pro tem, then charitable efforts within Ghana itself might fund her continuing treatment. British people sometimes have to take that chance, the consequence of finite resources, with an NHS to which they have paid in all their lives.

So there we have it. An illegal immigrant and a foreign hospital playing emotional blackmail games with the guilt-ridden colonists. No, sorry, I don't buy into it.

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