NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

OAP stuck in Greece after 90th birthday holiday 'nightmare'

Maysie McLeod Image copyright Lesley McLeod
Image caption Maysie McLeod spent her 90th birthday in a Greek hospital

A woman who went to Greece for her 90th birthday has spent weeks in hospital unable to come home after a fall.

Maysie McLeod was staying at her family holiday home on the Greek island of Lesbos when she broke her hip.

She has now been in hospital for more than two weeks, and her upset family are trying to get her insurance company to bring her home to Aberdeenshire.

The insurers said they would get Ms McLeod home as soon as possible, once it was safe for her to travel.

The claim is being handled by Emergency Assistance Facilities for Free Spirit, which caters for those who have been refused by other providers due to their health, disability or age.

Ms McLeod paid more than £200 for the comprehensive policy with £10m coverage.

Emergency Assistance Facilities said the travel in a pressurised aircraft after a hip fracture was not recommended until 10 to 14 days after surgery, meaning the earliest Mrs McLeod could be considered able to travel was Tuesday 14 May.

'Dragging feet'

Her daughter Lesley McLeod has remained at her mother's bedside and has been trying to arrange for the insurers to provide transport either by air ambulance or private jet.

The pensioner is not well enough to travel home on the multiple commercial flights it would take for her to reach her Bridge of Don home from Lesbos, according to her doctors in Greece.

Ms McLeod Jnr arranged the holiday to celebrate her mum's 90th birthday on 4 May, but Ms McLeod Snr "lost her footing" and broke her hip on 27 April.

She spent her big day distressed and confused in hospital.

Image copyright Lesley McLeod

After emergency surgery to have pins inserted, her family hoped to arrange transport back to the UK.

Two weeks since being admitted to hospital, the pensioner - who is registered blind - had developed bed sores and was suffering persistent hallucinations due to medication, shock and pain, and could not sit for more than 100 minutes.

However, her doctors in Lesbos said she was fit to be discharged.

Her family said the insurance company were "dragging their feet" to avoid paying out for the expensive trip home because she must be transported by stretcher.

Ms McLeod Jnr has taken special leave from work to remain by her mother's bedside in Greece until arrangements can be made to bring her mother home.

She told the BBC Scotland news website: "They seem to be trying to find the cheapest way to get us home despite saying that money is not the object.

"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.

Image copyright Lesley McLeod

"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.

"Her health is deteriorating - she is anxious and needs home. It's horrible; it's heartbreaking to watch your mother crying and not knowing where she is."

"This was meant to be something special for her and it's turned into an unimaginable nightmare."

Mrs McLeod Jnr has been in touch with her mother's GP, who has advised that Mrs McLeod Snr would require a short hospital stay in Scotland and support from her local authority when she is discharged.

She plans to have her mother stay with her in Edinburgh until she is well enough to return to her own home.

'Grossly unfair'

A spokesperson for Emergency Assistance Facilities 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."

He said hip fractures were particularly challenging for 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 to 14 days after surgery," the spokesman said. "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."

He added: "We are still talking to the family who gave us the clear impression that they understand the reasons for the delay in getting Maysie home."