A TEENAGE holidaymaker who rushed her friend to a Greek hospital for emergency treatment today told of her shock after discovering she is being pursued by debt collectors over a £9,000 medical bill.
Laura Surtees said she was stunned when she received the demand after her pal suffered a severe asthma attack while in Malia, Crete.
The 18-year-old, from East Herrington, Sunderland, said a mistake by an ambulance driver meant the pair were taken to a private hospital not covered by their insurance.
She said: “I was in such a state. I was terrified for my friend. She looked in a really bad way. I just wanted to help her.
“I was given forms to fill in, but I thought I was just giving my consent for the operation.
“Some bits of them were in a foreign language.
“It turned out I was taking responsibility for paying for it.
“It was such a huge shock when I was got home and found out about the bill.
“I’ve no hope of finding that kind of money. My family don’t have it and my friend doesn’t have it.”
The part-time shop worker said she also fears the debt will put an end to her dreams of following in her mum’s footsteps and becoming a nurse.
Laura added: “I was hoping to study nursing at university next year, but I don’t know if this is going to put an end to that.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to arrange funding or a student loan or if I’ll be somehow blacklisted because I’ve got this debt on my record.”
Because her insurance policy does not cover the treatment, Laura has been forced to consult solicitors in a final bid to negotiate with the hospital.
Mum-of-two Lisa, 42, said her daughter has struggled to come to terms with the legal wrangle after returning home from the seven-day holiday in July this year.
The maternity nurse said: “We’ve tried pretty much everything. We’ve spoken to solicitors, but because the incident happened overseas they told us they would find it difficult to deal with the laws in another country.
“The result is we’d have to pay solicitors in Greece, which we just can’t afford.
“Laura is in a terrible state. She is so worried about it. The whole holiday was ruined, but she didn’t expect to face this when she got back home.
“She wasn’t even allowed to stay at the hospital with her friend.”
A spokeswoman for the Creta InterClinic Hospital confirmed that a “hospitalisation bill” remained unpaid and that a debt collection company was investigating the case.
“No deposits have been made and the case is with our legal department for further management,” she said.
“The reports of the legal department also do not show any progression of the case.”