Retired Pontefract police officer who suffered heart attack on Tenerife holiday is flown home after crowdfunding appeal raises £34,000

A former police officer from Pontefract who suffered brain damage after a heart attack on holiday in Tenerife more than six weeks ago has been flown home.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 11:41 am
Bill Annable pictured in hospital in Tenerife with wife Dot.

Grandfather of two Bill Annable, 75, is now in an acute care unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, after more than £34,000 was donated to a crowdfunding appeal to pay for a private air ambulance.

Mr Annable, a retired West Yorkshire Police officer who served with the force for 32 years, had been in an unresponsive state in a respite care hospital in Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

Mr Annable's wife Dot said her husband moved his eyes and squeezed her hand on the flight home on Wednesday January 27, before being taken to Pinderfields, where his condition is being assessed.

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Bill and Dot Annable.

Mrs Annable said she is unable to visit her husband due to Covid restrictions.

Mr and Mrs Annable were two weeks into a four-week holiday in Playa De Las Americas when he suffered a heart attack before falling and striking his head on the pavement on November 14 2020.

His travel insurance company Avanti has declined to cover the cost of his repatriation to the UK or his medical bills of more than €20,000.

Avanti has said Mr Annable was made aware when buying the policy that the company couldn’t cover him for heart-related conditions due to surgery he was waiting for on an artery in his leg.

Bill Annable pictured when he was a West Yorkshire Police officer

Mr Annable's friend Steve Spencer of Pontefract launched the crowdfunding appeal, which raised more than £34,000 to pay for his repatriation to the UK.

Mr Spencer said: "I can't thank people enough. I am really grateful to those people that have donated."

Mrs Annable said: "It is absolutely brilliant, it's fantastic. I could cry with joy that they have done it for me - strangers as well as people we know."

Mrs Annable, who described the last six weeks a "living nightmare," said she was "tearful and relieved" to be home.

Bill Annable pictured when he was a West Yorkshire Police officer.

She said: "Even though I can't see him, I can phone now and know what his procedures are and what is going to happen and what they are doing. I feel as though I'm in the loop now."

Mrs Annable, 64, said, when he applied for travel insurance with Avanti, her husband declared he suffered from hypertension, for which he was taking medication.

She also said Avanti were made aware that he had a successful operation two years ago to unblock an artery in his right leg and that he was waiting to undergo the same procedure in his left leg.

Mrs Annable said Mr Annable had never had heart problems before suffering the heart attack on November 14.

Bill and Dot Annable.

She said her husband's GP has provided the last two years of his medical history, which she said shows he did not have a heart problem.

Avanti said Mr Annable was made aware when buying the policy that the company couldn’t cover him for heart-related conditions due to the surgery he was waiting for on an artery.

Mrs Annable said a debt collection agency has sent a bill to the couple’s home in Pontefract for €20,000 for treatment he received at a private hospital - Hospiten Sur in Playa De Las Américas - plus €4,000 interest.

Mr Annable was taken by ambulance to Hospiten Sur in Playa after he suffered the heart attack and fall on November 14.

Mrs Annable said his European Health Insurance Card was not accepted at that hospital as he was covered by private insurance.

She said she was told at that hospital his travel insurance would cover the hospital costs.

But after four days and nights in the hospital - during which time Mr Annable underwent an angiogram and surgery to insert a stent - Mrs Annable discovered his medical bill was more than €20,000 and his insurance had not agreed to pay.

Mr Annable was then transferred to a public hospital in Santa Cruz, where he was treated under the European Health Insurance Card scheme.

He was in an intensive care unit and then stayed on a cardiac ward at that hospital until being transferred to a respite care hospital on January 1.

She said Avanti said they will pay for bills for the first 24 hours in the private hospital, which is €1,000, plus the €675 cost for the private ambulance which transported Mr Annable from Playa to Santa Cruz.

A spokesperson for Avanti, said: "We are deeply saddened by the circumstances surrounding Mr Annable's health and our thoughts continue to be with Mrs Annable.

"We have listened to the sales call many times and the customer was made aware repeatedly that we couldn't cover him for claims related to his heart due to his impending arterial surgery.

"His decision to travel was taken with that fact in mind, and that is the reason that the claim was declined.

"Once again, we urge any customers who are concerned about exclusions on their policy to contact us."

Yvette Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford, and Knottingley, said: "No family should have to go through this terrible situation.

"I've been seeking urgent assistance from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to help bring Mr Annable home safely and I'm pleased he is now back in the UK being cared for at Pinderfields Hospital.

"I'm continuing to pursue his insurance company and other avenues to help recoup the costs of the huge healthcare bill his family are facing.

"The support Mr Annable and his family have received from the local community, friends, and former police colleagues has been incredible.

"We now need to make sure they don't continue to be burdened with these enormous costs."