Ukrainian children have arrived in the UK to undergo cancer treatment. 

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Thursday 17th March 2022

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed that 21 children had been flown to the UK to receive life-saving cancer treatment. The government arranged a special flight on Sunday 13th March following pleas from ministers in Poland. The children were accompanied by members of their families and NHS medical staff. 

On arrival in the UK, the children were sent for assessment to determine the most suitable hospitals for treatment. Doctors will provide recommendations for their care based on their individual needs, with hospitals across the country ready to take new patients.

A group of nine medics from Southampton Children’s Hospital travelled to Poland to accompany the children on the flight to the UK. A spokesperson for the hospital said that all the families were overwhelmed at the generosity and kindness of others and were incredibly grateful for interventions from the Polish and UK governments. 

Mr Javid said that he was proud of the UK and the efforts to help children who have been forced out of their homes while undergoing treatment that could save their lives. The children would not have been able to continue their treatment in the Ukraine and UK hospitals will now provide them with opportunities to receive care in safe, secure, comfortable surroundings. Millions of people have fled Ukraine in the last three weeks, with most crossing the border into Poland.

Mr Javid also praised NHS staff and said that he was confident that the “incredible” doctors and nurses would do everything possible to ensure the children get the best care. 

Hundreds of patients in Ukraine have had their treatment interrupted, and in some parts, heavy shelling has destroyed hospitals and care facilities. Many children have been evacuated to Poland and one paediatric oncologist said that most children who arrive at the hospital where she works are in a “life-threatening situation.” Polish authorities have appealed for help with treating children and adults whose treatment has been stopped due to the ongoing conflict.