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Hospital bosses will not challenge severely disabled girl’s move to Italy

Tafida Raqeeb’s parents won a High Court battle on Thursday when a judge ruled that the five-year-old could be taken to Genoa for treatment.

Hospital doctors have said they will not challenge a court ruling allowing Tafida Raqeeb’s parents to take her to Italy for treatment (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Hospital doctors have said they will not challenge a court ruling allowing Tafida Raqeeb’s parents to take her to Italy for treatment (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Brian Farmer, PA

A couple given the go-ahead to move their severely disabled daughter to an Italian hospital will not face a further legal fight.

Tafida Raqeeb’s parents won a High Court battle on Thursday when a judge ruled that the five-year-old could be moved to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa.

Solicitor Shelina Begum, 39, and construction consultant Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, of Newham, east London, hope to move Tafida to Italy in the next 10 days in the wake of Mr Justice MacDonald’s decision.

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Tafida Raqeeb’s parents, Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Bosses at the Royal London Hospital, where Tafida is being treated, said they were considering an appeal and Mr Justice MacDonald had been listed to oversee a further hearing on Friday.

But they now say they will not try to overturn the decision.

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, said: “We followed the guidance of the General Medical Council and referred this tragic case to the Family Division of the High Court to reach an independent view about Tafida’s best interests.

“The High Court weighed up clinical and ethical considerations and decided, on the balance of evidence, that life-sustaining treatment should continue.

“After careful consideration regarding the wider implications of the judgment, we have decided not to appeal.

“Our doctors and nurses will continue to provide Tafida with the best possible care as long as she continues to be our patient.

“We will also support the family as they make alternative arrangements for Tafida’s care.

He added: “This is a difficult situation for everyone involved, and we are grateful to the Judge for his guidance about what is best for Tafida in the unique and unfortunate circumstances set out in his ruling.”

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A High Court judge ruled that Tafida Raqeeb can be taken to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa, Italy (Family handout/PA)

High Court officials said the hearing listed before Mr Justice MacDonald would not now be staged.

Specialists at the Royal London Hospital, where Tafida is receiving life-support, had opposed a move to Italy.

They said further treatment would be futile because the youngster has permanent brain damage, is in a minimally conscious state and has no chance of recovery.

Lawyers representing Tafida had asked him to rule that she could be moved to Italy.

They had taken instructions from a relative and their application was backed by Tafida’s parents.

Ms Begum and Mr Raqeeb said doctors at the Gaslini would keep providing life-support treatment until Tafida was diagnosed as brain-dead.

They said Tafida, who has a British-Bangladeshi background, is from a Muslim family and Islamic law allows only God to end life.

Mr Justice MacDonald, who analysed evidence at a recent High Court trial in London, said he had decided “on a fine balance” that it was in Tafida’s best interests for “life-sustaining treatment” to continue.

He said there could be no justification for stopping her parents moving her to the Italian hospital if they wanted to.

PA

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