Holiday drama OAP still in hospital

Brian Douglas photographed with his wife Margaret. Picture by FRANK REID
Brian Douglas photographed with his wife Margaret. Picture by FRANK REID

A GRANDMOTHER who took ill on a sunshine break, leaving her husband with a £28,000 bill to get her home, remains in hospital – more than three months after she became sick.

Hartlepool pensioner Brian Douglas was landed with the hefty bill to bring his poorly wife Margaret home from Zante in Greece after their insurers refused to pay out after they had declared that she had heart problems and “breathlessness” on their insurance policy.

This was also in spite of medics giving her the green light to travel.

As reported by the Hartlepool Mail earlier this month, Brian had to take out a £21,000 bank loan and fork out £7,000 of his life savings to pay for medical bills, hotels and an emergency flight home after insurers Barclays told him that “claims relating to that condition would be excluded”.

Margaret, 74, had taken ill on September 14 and was rushed from hospital to hospital on the Greek island but medics could not find out what was wrong.

After Brian eventually managed to scrape the money together to arrange an emergency flight home, Margaret was rushed to James Cook University Hospital on October 18, where she still remains.

She has had open-heart surgery, needed kidney dialysis and was left in a coma for three weeks.

Thankfully, Margaret is showing signs of improvement – but she had to spend Christmas in hospital.

Brian, 74, says it could be at least another month before she is allowed home.

He said: “She has had a triple bypass and still has a tube in her chest.

“She is out of the high dependency unit and now in Ward 32.

“She is awake and talking to me and saying ‘I want to come home’ and she gets up to do physio.

“It was a relief to have her talking again and I hope she will be home next month.”

Brian said he took Margaret some presents in hospital on Christmas Day.

But despite the good progress Margaret is showing, Barclays are still refusing to budge as to whether the couple are entitled to any insurance claims.

However, Brian remains hopeful that he will recoup some of the costs and has written to the travel Ombudsman for advice and is waiting for a response.

Retired ship rigger Brian, who is dad to Beverley Maybee, 48, and Sharon Groom, 50, and grandfather to Donna, 27, and Gemma Groom, 25, and Beverley’s three stepchildren, said he had been paid back £1,800 of the £6,100 he had paid to emergency medical service provider Athens Assistance.

But sadly this was soon used up when his central heating broke and he had to pay for repairs.

However, Brian says he hopes to have more luck in 2013.

“I’m looking forward to it no end,” he said.

“Getting Margaret back, that’s what I want.”

Barclays previously said the couple are not eligible for reimbursement of the costs incurred and confirmed that that is still the case.