Saturday, 10 May 2008

Filipino whose wife died after blunder by NHS to be deported

By Jeremy Laurance
Saturday, 10 May 2008

A man whose wife died as a result of an NHS blunder has lost his right to remain in Britain, in what a coroner described yesterday as an "extraordinary" decision.

Arnel Cabrera, 39, came to Britain from the Philippines in 2003 to join his wife, Mayra, a theatre nurse, who worked at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

But a year later, Mrs Cabrera died at the same hospital after she was given an epidural during the birth of the couple's child which was mistakenly injected into her arm. The baby survived.

An inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing and found the NHS trust had been guilty of gross negligence. Now the Home Office has told Mr Cabrera he has failed in his bid to remain in the UK.

David Masters, the Wiltshire coroner who presided over the inquest, said yesterday: "This is extraordinary. In view of the verdict reached at the inquest I find it difficult to appreciate how the Home Office has reached this decision."

In its letter of refusal, the Home Office said Mr Cabrera had "not established a family life with his son in the United Kingdom". It added: "As his son remains in the Philippines there are no insurmountable obstacles to his family life being continued overseas."

Alex Rook, the solicitor who handled Mr Cabrera's immigration case, said: "This is an absolutely dreadful decision. If Arnel's wife had not been killed, the family would be living happily here. I will be writing to the relevant Home Office ministers asking them to reconsider their decision." He added: "His wife is killed by one part of the Government [the NHS], then Arnel is told by another part of the Government that he has to leave."

Mr Rook said Mr Cabrera had taken his son, Zac, to the Philippines to be looked after by family until the inquest and related legal proceedings had concluded in the UK, but it was always his intention to build a future in Britain.

Mr Cabrera's personal injury lawyer, Seamus Edney, also reacted with disgust. "I am staggered by this decision and embarrassed on behalf of our government," he said. "Arnel was permitted to reside in Britain on the basis that his wife was working – but when she is unlawfully killed by gross negligence by the NHS, he is told he is no longer welcome."

In a statement issued before Mr Cabrera lost his right to remain in the UK, he said he hoped the Government would show him "compassion". He added: "I have been unable to return to the Philippines during this difficult period and I desperately miss my young son, Zachary."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "All applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK are carefully considered on their individual merits."