A pensioner has been left stranded in a Greek hospital following a fall amid an ongoing battle with her insurance company.
Lesley McLeod hoped to celebrate mum Maysie’s 90th birthday in the sun on Lesbos on 4 May, however she suffered a broken hip around a week before the big day, leaving her requiring hospital treatment.
But the family have now been stuck on the island for more than two weeks after Lesley claimed insurers Free Spirit were “dragging their feet” on arranging specialist transport home to Aberdeenshire.
Doctors say Maysie must be transported via stretcher after undergoing surgery to insert pins, either by private jet or air ambulance.
However the company – who claim to be the first insurance cover to specifically cater for those who have been refused by other providers due to their health, disability or age – have been accused of attempting to avoid paying out, despite the ‘comprehensive’ £10 million coverage offered.
Lesley has now been forced to take leave from work to remain by her mother’s side until transport home can be arranged after she complained of bed sores and hallucinations.
She added Maysie had been left “distressed and confused” by the ordeal.
She told BBC Scotland: “As far as we can tell they don’t do anything about Mum’s case unless we constantly chase them up.
“All I can do is sit and watch my mother suffer, it’s heartbreaking. She is confused, unhappy and in pain at the moment. She needs to get home, but will have to travel by stretcher.
“Unless the insurance company send an air ambulance then the only way they get home would be a charter flight. Otherwise we’d have to take several commercial flights to get back to Scotland, which she is not well enough to do.”
Maysie suffered the broken hip on 27 April and has remained in the same hospital bed since.
Lesley said: “Her health is deteriorating – she is anxious and needs home. It’s horrible. This was meant to be something special for her and it’s turned into an unimaginable nightmare.”
A spokesperson for Emergency Assistance Facilities who are handling the assistance case said: “We are sorry that the family is unhappy with our service. We are doing everything we can to get Ms McLeod home as quickly and more importantly, safely as possible. When people fall ill or suffer accidents abroad it’s understandable that they want to get home as soon as they can and we want this too, but this has to be balanced with achieving optimal recovery.
“It is grossly unfair to claim that we are trying to save money. Far from it. We are simply trying to find the safest way to get Ms McLeod home in order to achieve an optimal clinical outcome following her terrible accident.
“Hip fractures are particularly challenging when it comes to repatriation by air. The pressurised environment of a plane can put dangerous stresses on the body, and it’s not recommended to repatriate someone with this kind of injury earlier than 10-14 days after surgery. In Ms McLeod’s case, this is no earlier than 14th May.”
“We are still looking at all the options available for repatriation and will continue to discuss this with the family. Nothing has been decided for definite and the family can be assured we are doing everything to get her home as quickly and safely as possible.”