Socialist Worker

New Labour’s laws will let Dorcas die in agony

Issue No. 1917

DORCAS FLED the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo—but she may die at the hands of Labour’s brutual new policy of denying healthcare to asylum seekers.

She fled to Britain in 2003 after friends told her that her husband had been killed and she would be next if she did not leave. She does not know where her three children are.

Her asylum application was turned down last October.

Her health has deteriorated. She started to suffer stomach aches and heavy periods, with severe blood loss. A hospital consultant carried out a scan which revealed a large growth which Dorcas needs a hysterectomy to remove.

This is designated as non-essential surgery. The government’s new rules, introduced in April this year, force overseas visitors and failed asylum seekers to pay for non-emergency treatment in NHS hospitals.

Two days before her planned operation the hospital said they could not operate because she was not an asylum seeker but a tourist.

The only treatment she can afford is paracetamol, and then only when friends give her money. She is destitute and sleeping on a friend’s floor.

She was recently given a £700 bill for a one-day stay in hospital in May. Her lawyer, Mufassil Islam, believes it is only a matter of time before the government seeks to deport Dorcas.

Mufassil says, “I believe that if she had to take a flight home she would be putting her life at risk. She is an emergency health case, and I have reason to believe she will die without this operation.

“There is no treatment for her in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and even if there was it would be well out of her reach. She has no money and no one to support her.”


A fresh insult for Canary Wharf cleaners

LEGAL GIANT Clifford Chance has ordered its cleaners to use the back door rather than the front entrance of its swanky new building near Canary Wharf in east London.

The cleaners have to go down 60 steps, walk through the building, and go up 23 steps to reach their locker room.

Anthony Parris, a supervisor for the cleaning company, says, “We’re good enough to clean the building but it seems we are not good enough to use the front door.

“They have only just agreed to let one cleaning lady who is pregnant use the lift.

“Others have had bad knees or asthma—after eight hours cleaning to go up and down 80 stairs is awful.”


The sick state of ‘liberated’ Iraq

SIX IRAQI doctors visiting Britain last week revealed the chronic state of healthcare in that country, over 15 months since “liberation”.

Doctor Zuheir Fathallah from Basra says, “One of the simple things a surgeon needs is a skin graft knife. I do not have any. They are supposed to be disposable, but we have to resterilise and reuse them.”

Because of the poor electricity supply more families cook on primitive stoves—leading to horrific accidents.

Doctor Hashim Al-Khayat says that operations have to be conducted using kerosene lamps after power failures: “We have put orders in to the coalition forces many times, and now to the ministry of health. But it seems there is a shortage of money to get equipment.”

Doctor Al-Zubaidy, from Sadr City in Baghdad, says, “The problems of the children in this area are worse. There is a poor water supply. Since the last war there has been no improvement.

“There is poor sanitation and poor sewage disposal.”

Most of the patients in his children’s unit are suffering diarrhoea.

Food rations are insufficient, “especially for children and pregnant women. You have to buy more.

“But the families are obliged to sell to get other things like clothes or shoes for the children.”


Wartime enemies become friends

RECENTLY declassified US documents show how the British authorities protected a Nazi war criminal after the war.

Major Horst Kopkow, an SS officer, was behind the Nazis’ operation to stop secret agents parachuting into occupied Europe.

Kopkow had hundreds of captured agents murdered by lethal injection or hanging.

He was implicated in the deaths of over 300 Allied agents, including Violette Szabo, Diane Rowden, Noor Inayat Khan and Francis Suttill.

British intelligence protected him, as he gave them information on the fight against the new enemy—the Soviet Union.


Manager’s own goal

Mark Clark is the Scottish manager of the Iraqi national football team. He made the headlines when he said anti-occupation statements made by players were due to their naivety.

His claim to a place in football’s hall of fame? Clark was educated at the fee paying Edinburgh Academy and Glenalmond School.

He was a sports lawyer at the top Edinburgh firm of Dundas Wilson.

As a Territorial Army captain in the Queen’s Own Yeomanry he was posted to Basra as a military liaison officer before he took over from the senior US official in charge of sport.

The Herald newspaper claimed he was “hailed as a national hero by the Iraqi people”.

Iraqis don’t seem to share this view. Clark says he’s been “mortared and RPGed thousands of times, rocks through the windscreen, normal everyday stuff. I’m aware I’m a target.”

Not surprisingly Clark is quitting Baghdad to work from Paris. He claims that he can no longer afford the insurance.

He was the replacement manager after Bernd Stange quit because of the lack of security in Iraq.

Stange told the media, “There is no peace in Iraq—just turn on the TV if you want proof of that.”


Figure it out - £78 million

Last year’s expenses bill for MPs—an average of £118,000 each. Top of the claimants was pro-war Labour MP Eric Joyce, who bagged £152,882.


In this week - 1934 - 70 years ago

THE GREAT Textile Strike broke out across the US, involving over 400,000 workers.

They were demanding a national minimum wage.

The strike began in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the cradle of the US textile industry.

It lasted over three weeks.

The Rhode Island governor sent a telegram to the US president demanding “drastic action” to restore law and order.

Police beat and teargassed protesters and killed three workers.


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 4 Sep 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1917
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