A teenager is being chased by debt collectors for a £9,000 medical bill after she rushed her friend to hospital during a holiday in Greece.
Laura Surtees, 18, desperately called an ambulance for her friend who was suffering from a severe asthma attack during their summer holiday in Malia, Crete.
But Miss Surtees was burdened with the huge medical bill when she unintentionally signed a form in Greek agreeing to pay the costs – unaware they had been taken to a private hospital.
Laura, from East Herrington, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, 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.
The part-time shop worker fears the debt will stop her from going to university to train as a nurse.
Laura said: ‘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.’
Laura has been forced to consult solicitors in a final bid to negotiate with the hospital, as the insurance policy does not cover the treatment.
Laura’s mum 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.
She said: ‘No deposits have been made and the case is with our legal department for further management.
‘The reports of the legal department also do not show any progression of the case.’