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How a VC winner is treated in modern Britain

Gurkha VC winner delivers medals to Downing Street in protest - Telegraph

A Gurkha who won the Victoria Cross delivered dozens of his medals to Downing Street in protest at the treatment of his fellow soldiers.

Tul Bahadur Pun VC, 87, a Second World War hero who is now in a wheelchair, handed in medals including an MBE as part of a demonstration to promote the rights of more than 2,000 Gurkhas to stay in Britain.

Mr Pun's protest came only days after he himself was refused treatment for a heart condition at an NHS hospital.

He was then told he owed the hospital thousands of pounds in unpaid medical bills.

Mr Pun, one of only 10 living VC holders in the UK, was close to tears after he was humiliated at a cardiology department at West Middlesex Hospital in London.

The war hero, who lives on just £135 a week, was forced to leave the hospital on the anniversary of winning his VC in Burma on June 23, 1944.

After examining his passport hospital officials said he was not entitled to treatment and would have to pay back the NHS for previous medical help because he had been "misleading" over his immigration status.

Mr Pun, who is blind and almost deaf, said: "I could not sleep worrying about having to pay thousands of pounds for the treatment I have already had. I have not misled anyone. The British Government allows me to live here."

He was originally refused entrance to the UK by British officials in Nepal as it was claimed he did not have strong enough ties with the UK.

But in June last year the decision was overthrown by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, and he now lives in a home in Hounslow, west London.

What an utter, utter disgrace, I wish it hadn't been his medals he had deployed in Downing Street.

Comments

What the f**k has this country come to under these gibbering idiots. I am ashamed of it. Brown should give the medals back NOW and ensure that the bills are scrapped and treatment continued. How much lower can we sink?

The payback for being honourably discharged as a Gurkha should be instant and full British citizenship with a pension identical to that which a British serviceman would enjoy. Hell, I'd pay 'em more.

Hang them. Hang them all, and hang them high. You know of course I don't mean Johnny Gurkha.

David: quite right. I seem to remember that one of the perks of joining La Legion Etrangere was French citizenship after a certain number of years' service.

He was originally refused entrance to the UK by British officials in Nepal as it was claimed he did not have strong enough ties with the UK. [emphasis added]

A holder of the Victoria Cross does not have "strong" ties to the UK? Just what constitutes "enough" of a connection that Abu Mahmolook and his four wives are welcomed but an ex-soldier is not?

Having ILE or even ILR in your passport is in certain cases not enough to prove residency in the UK. To be fully entitled to receive free NHS treatment you have to be physically living in the UK, not just have the right to. This means that you have to fulfill the ordinarily resident criteria, i.e. you must be in the UK for any 9 months in 12. The DH lets you have holidays but they are set at 3 months a year. Whether the NHS rules are wrong is debatable, it is something which is out of power to the normal overseas manager in the NHS. The prevailing legislation and guidance on how to interpret that legislation must be followed.

Some persons remain out of the country for longer than the 3 months and in some cases relinquish their automatic right to free treatment (this is statutory), they have to prove again that they are living in the UK as the ordered part of their life. This is the point where they present their passport, it is not demanded in any way shape or form, it is offered as evidence for free treatment. This is normal and standard procedure across the NHS. It is up to the patient to prove they are entitled to receive free treatment, any NHS Trust can and should be carrying out further checks on persons who may or may not be ordinarily resident in the UK.

In order to treat every patient with dignity & respect it is common courtesy to inform persons of what might happen next, if after further checks they come back in the negative or positive this will be communicated to the patient. In fact research suggests that complaints in the NHS arise from persons who receive a lack of information not the other way around. Many persons gain their right to live in the UK but only take up this right when they require the services the UK has to offer. In order to have a statutory right to free NHS treatment then the NHS rules have to be complied with, not just the visa rules. An ILE or even an ILR visa grants a person the right to live in the UK, to enter freely until a specified end date but it does not give a specific right to free NHS treatment. Any person versed in the legal profession should also know this, but it is an inconvenient fact that has been overlooked in many cases.

Many problems in this field in the NHS are exasperated by the use on non-professional interpreters and advocates. Some advocates have an agenda that only becomes apparent after something else happens or a massive amount of publicity is required to publicise something else. Some non-professional interpreters only inform their recipient of what they want them to hear, not was actually said. This is a very very common problem, one that most overseas managers would recognise as a hazard of working in this field. We are trained in decency, respect and we have to treat all persons we meet as equal, not to do so is unthinkable and professional misconduct, as discrimination in any format is not tolerated in this field and should not be either. Overseas Managers are acutely aware of their responsibilities in this field, and as a result are ultra polite and sensitive to the needs of the person they are interviewing. Some persons demand more respect than others, because of who they are or what they have done, unfortunately this is not possible to give, all persons an overseas manager sees are equal.

Your blog in particular whilst eloquent and well written in the main, actually the rest of it is quite a good read has caused great distress to my family. A family who has a long, proud military history. You are welcome to your views but please refrain from using *, t**t etc. Your blog is popular and its influence spreads far and wide, way beyond the borders of the UK. So my arrseholeness (not a word, but if urban dictionary can get away with it then for then for this purpose it will suffice) has risen to heady heights. The DH guidance on ILE & ILR is not specific, we have notified all of our members to the error in the DH guidance, so this scenario may not ever happen again.

Bean counter?, fair enough, everyone's job has its nicknames, not everyone loves their job, not everyone knows what other people do - but at the end of the day its a job and its a job I do for a finite financed resource, funnily enough its a job that is not paid very well at all and you certainly couldn't afford to get rid of me and get a nurse, they would have to take a pay cut. The NHS serves 59 million people, it has its fair share of problems, but its limited resources must and need to be properly protected.

Incidentally, the reference to VC in the mirror article is probably only the virtually truthful account of what I said - I did say is that what VC means? as it was at the front of his name, not at the back or after the family name as is usual when one has letters or a medal recognition, if it had been after his family name I would not have uttered the words, but hey that would have been an inconvenient fact as well. So once again you are entitled to form an opinion based solely on the writings of the Mirror, or the Mail or even the Telegraph, (aside from the fact that the Downing Street visit was already planned and the medals were going to be returned anyway, irrespective of what the Mirror alleges happened the day before.) I hope the Gurkhas attain their right to live in the UK, I think the 1997 deadline is unfair and probably unlawful. That's where the ire and vitriol should be poured not wasted upon me. The visit to the hospital achieved its aim, it gained massive publicity for the Downing Street visit, but to use a military terminology, it is one battle won with only minor collateral damage as they would see it, for me the damage has been massive a bit like a cluster bomb each part is still exploding even two weeks after the event. The war is that of the Gurkhas plight to get the recognition they deserve. The war is that of getting the government to reverse its 1997 ruling by use of a judicial review. Your enemy is the government not some bloke who was only doing his job, who got stunted by a very clever daily newspaper.

I have not had the right of reply but I apologised to Mr Pun if he felt that I had treated him unsatisfactorily, this was done in writing and before the newspaper published its story (this is the apology that dozyBint is now alluding to, I would always apologise if someone thinks I have treated them unfavourably wouldnt you? Its only polite.) another inconvenient fact overlooked by everyone. I have morals, I have honour and I respect heroes, I treat every patient I see with dignity and respect but they are inconvenient facts that do not sell papers.

The fact of the matter is - I have never, nor will I ever deny Mr Pun treatment at this hospital. I made no mistake or disrespected him, I simply had to make further checks, I am guilty of providing too much information in relation to what might happen, not what will happen. Actually, as we all know he speaks no English, so I didnt speak to him at all, I spoke with his advocate. Whatever the motives are of his solicitor and his advisors they are wasting their and your efforts pursuing this. Your efforts should be concentrated on attaining a Judicial Review of the 1997 rule.

Its what I would do if I was advising him on legal issues.

If you are still unconvinced then have a look at the British Army Rumour Service website - not everything you rad in the papers is true: http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/printertopic=1/t=85091/postdays=0/postorder=asc/start=80.html

Andy Finlay

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