Ukrainian refugee children to begin lifesaving NHS cancer care

The 21 Ukrainian children who were evacuated to England, are now all under the care of NHS specialist hospital services and are starting their package of cancer treatment.

Following their arrival on Sunday night, all children have received health assessments from NHS staff and have now been triaged to seven hospitals across England, getting the very best clinical support to meet each patient’s specific needs.

NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard has thanked NHS staff for their efforts to quickly and efficiently protect some of Ukraine’s youngest and most vulnerable young people, and welcomed the latest milestone in the families’ journey.

A team of NHS doctors, nurses and technicians from Southampton Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust travelled to Poland at the weekend to provide the children and their families medical support as they flew out of the war-hit region.

Dr Michael Griksaitis, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist at University Hospital Southampton, led the in-flight team and said he was overwhelmed by the ‘human tragedy’ on the ground in Ukraine as well as by the response from NHS colleagues.

Dr Martin English, a children’s cancer consultant, led the team from Birmingham who assessed the children and provided clinical advice on the most appropriate next steps for treatment.

NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Today is a lifeline for children in the most vulnerable circumstances imaginable.

“It is hard to overstate how much today will mean for the parents, brothers and sisters of these children, as they start the next phase of a hugely traumatic journey to a healthier and safer future.

“Anyone who has experienced cancer knows it is an ordeal for friends and relatives too, so I’m proud that not only have NHS staff been able to put their world-class skill to work to save the lives of these young people, but that in doing so, my colleagues in the health service are providing hope to our new patients’ families”.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “These brave children have overcome unimaginable adversity to make it to England after being forced out of their home country by the Russian invasion. I thank the doctors, nurses and technicians who travelled to Poland to evacuate them, and the Polish government for their support.

“These children are now in the safest of hands with NHS staff providing world-class cancer treatment, doing everything they can to support them over the coming days and weeks.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and will remain at the forefront of the humanitarian response”.