Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Erb's palsy baby refused treatment over family's immigration status

A baby could be left with a paralysed arm because of her family's immigration status, her parents have said.

Sanika Ahmed, from Southsea in Hampshire, has Erb's palsy and needs surgery on her right arm by the age of nine months - just four weeks from now.

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Middlesex has refused treatment because Sanika's family does not have the right to live in the UK.

The hospital said it was following NHS rules on overseas patients.

Sanika was born in Portsmouth last July with nerve damage caused by birth trauma to her shoulders.

She was referred to the specialist Middlesex Hospital but was refused treatment, so her parents have engaged law firm Swain and Co. Solicitors to seek a judicial review.

Immigration issue

Her father Muhammad Ahmed, from Bangladesh, worked legally in the UK from July 2008 to August 2009, but stayed illegally after his work permit expired.

The family has now applied for permission to stay.

Syeda Ahmed, Sanika's mother, said two specialists told her Sanika must have the operation within a month or risk being "paralysed for life" in her arm.

"Sanika is slowly, slowly getting paralysed and it is very upsetting for all our family," she said.

A hospital spokesman said Sanika was "not entitled to free NHS treatment" because of her parents' status.

The hospital has offered to treat Sanika as a private patient, but the family said they cannot afford to pay.

The age limit for an effective nerve graft is not universally agreed but Jackie Dewdney, trustee of charity the Erb's Palsy Group, said: "Nine months is generally seen as the cut-off point."

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