A furious grandmother is facing a £5,000 medical bill after falling ill on holiday despite taking out insurance - all because she was struck off her doctor's books for being a 'ghost' patient.
Lee Dean, 57, and her husband Gary, 54, booked their seven-night break in Lanzarote with Thomas Cook last year.
But when the couple took out a £45 joint insurance policy, underwritten by White Horse Insurance Ireland Limited, Newington Health Care Centre off Anlaby Road had recently de-registered Mrs Dean, the Hull Daily Mail reports.
The health centre did this because she had not needed any of its services for a number of years.
A condition of the policy, say the underwriters, is that the policy-holder is registered with a UK doctor so that medical records can be scrutinised in the event of a claim.
Three days into the break, Mrs Dean, a cleaner at Barclay's in Hull city centre, developed cystitis - or inflammation of the bladder - that required a four-day stay in a private hospital on the outskirts of Puerto del Carmen - the main tourist town on the popular holiday island.
Mr Dean, a long-distance truck driver, said: "They've told me they wouldn't pay out there and then because she doesn't have a doctor. Lee hadn't needed to go to the doctor's for a good three or four years. She'd been going to that surgery for 40 odd years."
It said the scheme would ensure that it does not waste vital funds by paying GPs in the region of £100 a year for looking after so-called "ghost patients" – those who have died, moved away or no longer want their local surgery's services.
Mr Dean, who is expecting a bill to arrive at the couple's home in Kingswood any day, say they cannot afford the bill and wants to prevent others falling into a similar trap.
"How many people can find £5,000 just like that?" he said. "People need to make sure they are registered with their GP before they take out any kind of health or travel insurance. People should learn from what happened to us."
Mr Dean, who insists his wife received no communication from the surgery, said it was clear his wife needed urgent medical attention.
"I decided that Lee really needed to go to hospital," he said. "She had bad bladder problems and was also suffered diahorea at this point.
"So we went to the reception at the complex we were staying at and they ordered us a taxi. It took us to Hospiten, a nearby private hospital.
"She was quickly diagnosed with cystitis and was put on a drip. She was given various antibiotics and fluids. After a couple of days the bill stood at 2,500 Euros. They initially wanted a 2,000 Euro deposit, before they would issue us with a 'fit to fly' certificate. But in the end we just paid an 85 Euro insurance excess."
The couple missed their flight back to East Midlands Airport, where they had departed from on October 6.
"I contacted Thomas Cook, but I thought they didn't seem interested in getting us back," said Mr Dean.
"My step-daughter and her husband ended up having to get us cheap Ryanair flights home."
The final medical bill is expected to arrive on their doormat in the next few days.
"If the bill was 2,500 Euros after a couple of days, we're expecting it to be at least £5,000," said Mr Dean.
"She had a load of X-rays and scans before she was discharged."
Mr Dean says he and his wife feel a mix of anger and bitter disappointment."Our holiday was ruined," he said.
"For us, this was a holiday of a lifetime. We both work hard, but hadn't been abroad for nearly 25 years. We'd renewed our wedding vows four years ago and this break was meant to have been a bit of a celebration."'
A spokeswoman for White Horse Insurance Ireland Limited said: "Regrettably, as Mrs Dean is not registered with a GP, we could not access the medical records required under the terms and conditions of her policy to make a fully informed decision.
"As a result, we advised the couple that they would have pay the hospital bill, but that they could make a claim once they got home."
This would allow us to trace Mrs Dean's medical records through the Central Repository. Our claims team has already sent them a claims form for completion, which we will process as soon as receive it."
Newington Health Care Centre declined to comment citing patient confidentiality.