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Paralysed Swedish woman in London ‘cannot return home due to Stockholm red tape’

Sweden is being asked to review rules which are blocking a seriously injured woman returning home from London (AFP/Getty Images)
Sweden is being asked to review rules which are blocking a seriously injured woman returning home from London (AFP/Getty Images)

A Swedish woman left paralysed after a bike accident has been stranded in a London hospital for more than a year after her home country refused to permit her return.

Her husband has described the situation as “shameful” as he continues to appeal for her return, according to The Guardian.

The 52-year-old polling company executive had been living in London for more than 25 years when she sustained a severe brain injury from hitting her head on the pavement after coming off her bike last March.

She has spent the past year being moved between a series of intensive care units and specialist treatment centres.

The mother of a 12 year-old son is now in a high-dependency unit in a London hospital but her husband wants her to be closer to her mother and three siblings.

But because she has lived out of Sweden for so long she has fallen off the country’s official population register and cannot be considered eligible for care in its system.

Her husband has reportedly been told he can present documents to get her relisted as resident in Sweden on her behalf, but only when his wife, who cannot walk or talk, is physically in the country.

But the NHS cannot transfer her to the Swedish healthcare system because hospitals there cannot receive a patient who is not on the population register.

The family’s local MP who represents Dulwich and West Norwood, Labour’s Helen Hayes, said the case was “shocking”.

She told The Guardian: “Karin’s accident was a terrible tragedy which is devastating for Karin and her family. She is currently trapped between two wholly incompatible and inflexible systems.

“This impasse is compounding the family’s suffering... we need basic compassion from all sides.”

The letter said: “As this is truly an exceptional case, this will require exceptional actions by both the UK government and the Swedish government, as well as by the NHS and Swedish health professionals.”

Her husband believes many other emigrants from Sweden will be unaware of the consequences of falling off the population register.

He said: “I’ve been with Karin a long time and been to Sweden many times and I was under the impression that Sweden was a compassionate western liberal democracy.

“I am very down about this. I feel this is shameful. Karin is very Swedish and, in many ways, she really loves her country and loves to go back and spend summers there. We had been making plans to retire there in the next year or so and the fact that they’ve so severely let her down is quite awful,” he added.

He has written to 349 MPs at the Riksdag (parliament) in Sweden. He got a reply from only one, who expressed his sympathy but said he was unable to resolve the situation.

An Foreign Commonwealth and Devlopment Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British-Swedish dual national.”