A baby denied NHS treatment because of her parents' immigration status may end up paralysed if she is not seen by doctors soon, her parents have said.
Sanika Ahmed was born in Hampshire to Bangladeshi parents but because their visa has expired, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Middlesex has refused her treatment.
The eight-month-old suffers from Erb's palsy and unless she has nerve graft surgery before she is nine months old, it is unlikely she will ever regain movement in her arm.
The hospital say that although Sanika is UK born she is dependent upon her parents and therefore is not entitled to free NHS treatment. Her parents have already applied for permission to stay in the UK.
Sanika's mother, Syeda Ahmed, told the BBC that consultants have told her Sanika only has a month in which to be treated before she is permanently paralysed in her arm.
"Sanika is slowly, slowly getting paralysed and it is very upsetting for all our family," she said.
Her father Muhammad Ahmed is from Bangladesh and though he had a legal permit to work in the UK from July 2008 to August 2009, he stayed on illegally after his permit ended.
Mr and Mrs Ahmed are attending an appeal hearing next month that will rule on their legal right to remain in the UK. The hospital has said it has offered to treat Sanika privately. The cost for such treatment is estimated to run into tens of thousands of pounds and her parents have said they cannot afford it.
Karen Hillyer from The Erb's Palsy Group told the Huffington Post UK: "Most consultants would not operate after nine-ten months for nerve graft surgery because the results would be so disappointing. There's a variety of ancillary surgeries you can have after this point but nothing that would restore nerve function in the arm. You are looking at ameliorating the situation rather than restoring movement. "
The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital said in a statement "Sanika Ahmed was first referred to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust in July 2012 and again in October 2012.
"We contacted Sanika’s parents on 8th November 2012 asking for standard proof of entitlement to NHS treatment under the NHS Overseas Patient Regulations.
"Mr and Mrs Ahmed’s entitlement to live in the UK expired in August 2009. Although Sanika is UK born she is dependent upon her parents and under the provisions of the NHS Overseas Patient Regulations, Sanika was not entitled to free NHS treatment.
"In February 2013 we received a letter from Mr Ahmed’s legal representatives regarding this matter and we replied offering to treat Sanika as a private patient. We received no reply to this offer.
"We understand that Mr and Mrs Ahmed are attending an appeal hearing next month that will rule on their legal right to remain in the UK. We are happy to see Sanika as an outpatient pending the results of this appeal."
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