A BRITISH expat has been slapped with a £20,000 (€23,000) hospital bill after her bowel exploded during a trip to the UK.
Helen Winslade, 55, who lives in Almeria, was visiting home in early July when she had to undergo life saving surgery, losing a part of her small intestine.
The procedure went well, but amazingly, within weeks the retired Brit was faced with a whopping bill from the NHS, despite her British citizenship.
The Welsh native was diagnosed with a rare form of bowel cancer known as GIST tumors.
According to her brother, Karl Winslade, Helen was not expecting to stay in the UK for an extended period and their ‘small pension’ could not fund Helen’s accommodation, food and travel costs.
Karl launched a fundraising campaign to get Helen back to Spain, where he said ‘her prognosis would be better’ due to shorter waiting times. She finally returned in late September after a months-long ordeal.
Her husband, Carlos, had been left holding the fort in Seron, while she was stuck in the UK short of funds.
The impact of Covid 19 ‘wiped out’ their business, leaving the couple to live ‘on a very small pension’, according to the appeal.
The case is a warning to any expats considering visiting home without medical insurance or failing to travel with the correct forms in case of an unexpected health scare.
Under current laws, if you are not a UK resident, you must produce relevant documentation to receive free NHS treatment – including an EHIC (a standard Spanish health card) or GHIC card, or a so-called S1 or S2 form.
Alternatively, you can request a Provisional Replacement Certificate, which will cover healthcare in the UK for the length of your trip.
Since a Go Fund Me page was launched at the start of August, only €210 of the couple’s €5,000 target has been raised.
Karl says he is ‘eternally grateful’ for any contribution.
To donate, visit the Go Fund Me page here.