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Family of NHS consultant stricken by Covid face removal from UK

The family of an NHS consultant who has treated many patients during the coronavirus pandemic, and who is now critically ill with Covid himself, are facing removal from the UK.

Dr Basem Enany, 44, a consultant cardiologist from Egypt, is currently in intensive care on a ventilator at a Yorkshire hospital.

Colleagues describe him as “a frontline fighter against the pandemic” and say he regularly spent full day and night shifts on the Covid wards looking after very sick patients. In mid-September, he tested positive for Covid himself.

A few days after falling ill he noticed weakness in both legs which developed into a progressive paralysis. He has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare complication of some viruses, including Covid. There have been 31 other cases linked to Covid, mainly in Europe.

Enany has been on a ventilator for two weeks because he is suffering from breathing difficulties, although he can communicate. At the moment his prognosis is unclear.

Enany had been working as a locum consultant at York teaching hospital NHS trust. His contract was due to finish at the end of November and his current work visa expires at the beginning of December. Before he fell ill, he was working on new job applications and was planning to renew his visa, as he, his wife and their four daughters, the youngest of whom is only four years old, are all settled in the UK.

Speaking to the Guardian, Enany’s wife, who did not wish to give her full name, said: “I can’t believe this is happening. The whole thing is like a bad dream. My husband is young and very talented. We never thought we would face something like this.

“He loves his work so much. Even when he first got Covid he was working online from home on his emails and looking at his referrals. He is a very dedicated doctor. Before this happened our lives were smooth and easy and stable. Our four daughters are very well settled here. All of them love school and are happy here.”

The family’s MP contacted the Home Office on their behalf but had no response.

Contacted by the press on Thursday night, a Home Office spokeswoman told PA Media: “Dr Enany is here entirely legally and has every right to remain in the UK. Our thoughts are with his family, and we will be urgently contacting them and his employer so we can help at this difficult time. Health and social care professionals from all over the world play a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the UK and we are hugely grateful.”

While Enany’s wife welcomed the statement that officials would be contacting the family and her husband’s employer, she said that the situation remained unclear.

“The visa runs out at the beginning of December and I do not know what will happen as my husband will not be able to work then so cannot renew the same visa we have now. I will be anxious until I have a new visa in my hand.

“The MP for York, Rachael Maskell, wrote to the Home Office to ask about our situation. Just yesterday she emailed me to say she had not yet had a reply from them. When my husband is awake I can communicate with him on Zoom. The first thing he always asks me is: ‘What is happening with the visa.’”

She said Enany was loved by his patients and the mother of one 20-year-old whose life he had saved had been in touch to offer support after hearing how sick he was.

“The boy’s mother was so kind to me,” she said. “She told me she’s praying for my husband.”

Enany’s wife, who worked as a clinical pathologist in Egypt, added: “All I want is for my husband to return to me in the same state he entered the UK in, on his feet. I can’t begin to imagine what will happen if we are told we can no longer stay in the UK because my husband is sick with Covid and is unable to work at the moment.”

Dr Sanjay Gupta, a consultant heart specialist and a friend and colleague of Enany, has set up a crowdfund page to pay for legal and medical bills. He said: “I feel both heartbroken and helpless. Whilst I am worried about Basem, I am equally worried about the future for his wife and daughters.”

Dr Terry John, the BMA international committee chair, said: “This is an incredibly distressing case, and we hope for the best for Dr Enany, while sending our thoughts to his family and colleagues. The last thing that his wife should be worrying about at this difficult time is uncertainty around her family’s future in this country, a country where they have laid roots and they call home, and the BMA is in contact with her and offering support.

“Our international colleagues have proven invaluable during the Covid-19 response, underlining the vital contribution that they have made to the NHS since its inception. But we know of the high cost that too many have paid, with a disproportionate number of health and care workers from overseas – and especially those from BAME backgrounds – becoming seriously ill, and tragically many dying, from the virus.

“We all owe this group of dedicated staff a huge debt of gratitude, while compassion and human decency must always be prioritised over rigid rules and bureaucracy.”

Source:

www.theguardian.com

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