Thursday, May 18, 2006

Immigration rules lead to death of young mother

The Independent has a desparately sad story on its front page today about the death of a young mother on Monday. Ese Elizabeth Alabi fell ill on a visit to the UK, so ill that she was unable to return home to Nigeria before her visa ran out. She needed a heart transplant.

Typically the tabloid press, notably the Daily Mail according to the Independent story, maliciously spun the story recently with large headlines accusing Ms Alabi of being a "health tourist." Rules brought in by the government last year meant that the young mother was not eligible to go on the transplant list because she was effectively classified as a health tourist not entitled to NHS treatment. Last minute appeals to the High Court were denied and though there was no gaurantee that she would have got a transplant even if she had been on the list, she was denied that possibility.

Ms Alabi had regularly travelled to the UK to be with her partner, Abiodun Abe, who has indefinite leave to stay here. She never overstayed her visa terms, until this time when her inability to travel due to her illness meant she fell into the illegal immigrant category, complicating the challenge in the High Court.

My sympathies go out to Ms Alabi's family.

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