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UK finally extends visa for NHS doctor who was critically ill with Covid

Diane Taylor
·3-min read

An Egyptian NHS doctor who feared he might be removed from the UK because he was too sick to work after becoming critically ill from Covid-19 complications is celebrating after his visa was finally extended by the Home Office.

Dr Basem Enany, a locum consultant cardiologist at York teaching hospital, had treated many coronavirus patients. He was placed on a ventilator after developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare complication of Covid-19 and other viruses, which left him partially paralysed. Enany believes that there is only one other recorded Covid-related case like his in the UK.

The stress of being critically ill was compounded by fears that the Home Office would not renew his work visa because of his illness, leaving the family at risk of removal, or of getting an alternative visa, which would not count towards the time people are required to spend in the UK before being granted indefinite leave to remain by the Home Office.

Enany and his wife, Marwa Mohamed, have spent many anxious weeks, worrying not only about health issues but also about their future in the UK. Home Office sources said they had been in touch with the family to offer support and reassurance.

But the Home Office has now contacted them to say they are renewing Enany’s tier 2 work visa for another 12 months, a decision that provides security for the family and time for Enany to recover without anxiety about his immigration status.

“This is a great solution. We really appreciate the efforts the Home Office has made and want to thank them so much. The visa extension means that I have time to recover properly,” Enany told the Guardian.

“I hope to be able to return to my work as a cardiologist as soon as I can. I love what I do and I’m really missing my patients. I had never been sick like this before and although as a doctor I knew about the great work done by other members of the medical team like nurses and physios I appreciate them even more now I have experienced as a patient what they do. I have learned a lot from them and thank everyone so much who has looked after me.”

Enany is now making good progress and no longer needs a ventilator. Though he is still using a wheelchair he is starting to walk again.

He is in an intensive rehabilitation unit in Leeds, where he is receiving physiotherapy. Due to Covid restrictions he has not been able to see his wife and the couple’s four young daughters since the end of September. But the family are hoping that he will be home in time for the Christmas holidays.

Mohamed added: “The decision the Home Office made is such a good one for us. The children are so happy and so excited that they will hopefully be able to see their dad again soon. We all miss him so much. We have a very big family celebration planned for when he is able to return home.”

More than 4,000 people who have made donations to a crowdfund set up to pay for Enany’s legal and medical bills. All remaining funds will be donated to research into Covid-19 and into Guillain-Barré syndrome.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We’ve worked closely with Dr Enany’s family during this very difficult time to assure them they are here entirely legally and have every right to remain in the UK, and we have provided them with an extension to their visa, which will not affect their pathway to indefinite leave to remain, to allow him to recover.

“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 for their work.”