Warning: don't get sick in Greece
Filed under: News
Savage cuts are tearing into medical supplies with some hospitals closing. If you're planning to holiday in Greece, what should you do?
Need to know: Savings
Make sure you've got proper insurance cover before leaving the UK, says The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) press spokesperson Sean Tipton. "We recommend you take out travel insurance, which will ensure you're covered to a private hospital rather than the state one. They [state hospitals] often don't provide fully if you fall ill so it's down to family to change sheets and provide food. This [situation] is common in many other countries too."
The insurance component is vital. Around 250,000 holiday makers go to Greece every year without any form of travel cover. Some take a chance and rely on their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card. But bear in mind the quality and scope of state medical care varies from country to country. Your EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance.
Don't scrimp on coverA Mail report this morning highlights the case of a British woman who ended up with a £17,000 medical bill when she fell ill on Crete in May. However her insurer, Virgin, argued it was not liable for the costs as her policy did not cover previous medical conditions.
"She didn't declare a pre-existing medical condition," says ABTA's Tipton. "If you have a medical condition, you've got to warn the insurer. They may insure you but may likely charge you more. Your insurance is worthless [if you don't disclose]. It's a complete false economy."
Running out of syringesAnd some holiday makers still assume it is the Foreign Office's responsibility to pay for hospital bills, particularly younger travellers. It's not, says ABTA.
"If British travellers get into difficulties overseas, there are things the nearest British Embassy or Consulate can do, including contacting friends and family for them, and giving them information on how to safely transfer money from the UK."
"But consular staff cannot pay hospital bills for British travellers, nor fly them home if they run out of holiday money."
Meanwhile it's alleged in a new film by Greek documentary maker Aris Chatzistefanou that some Greek nurses are having to steal supplies in order to treat patients. A lack of basic kit like syringes or gloves is increasingly common he claims in a documentary published by the Guardian.