Albert Thompson, the Londoner whose case has come to epitomise the Windrush scandal, has spoken of his anguish as he remains uncertain about whether he is to get radiotherapy for his cancer a day after he heard Theresa May announce on television that he would “be receiving the treatment he needs”.
As the fallout from the scandal continued to emerge, Thompson told the Guardian he was distressed to have no clarity, and upset that he had had no apology from the Royal Marsden hospital for the ongoing interruption to his cancer treatment.
Thompson (not his real name) received a brief call on Wednesday night from a consultant at the Royal Marsden telling him that he would receive an appointment letter in “two or three weeks’ time,” and asking him in to come in so he could have some blood tests. He was despondent about the cursory nature of the contact.
“He didn’t mention anything about radiotherapy,” Thompson said, noting that the hospital did not appear to be treating his case as particularly urgent. He remains concerned that despite the commitment from May that he was to receive treatment, the hospital seemed in no hurry to reschedule the 12-week series of daily radiotherapy sessions he was due to start last November, before he was told that he was not eligible for free treatment without proof that he was in the UK legally.
The call he had from the hospital is only the second contact he has had from his cancer specialist since he was told he needed to pay £54,000 if he wanted to go ahead with treatment (a sum he was, naturally, unable to raise). The phone conversation lasted three or four minutes, he thinks, and he had no chance to ask questions about what was going to happen next, or for professional reassurance about his fears about his health. The earlier call was equally brief, he said.
His unease over his suspended treatment came as the scale of the Windrush scandal continued to grow, as a flood of new cases emerged of lives ruined by the brutal application of the prime minister’s “hostile environment” policy towards a group of people who have lived in the UK legally for over half a century. The Home Office’s new Windrush hotline has had 232 calls since it was launched on Monday.
Thompson, 63, moved to London as a teenager 44 years ago to join his mother, who was here working as a nurse. Despite tax and national insurance records going back decades, he is still struggling to prove that he has the right to be here. He has never had a British passport, was not aware he needed one, and assumed he was British until suspicion over his immigration status led to him being evicted from his council-owned accommodation last year.