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A Brit mum broke her back on holiday in Turkey during a safari – and was allegedly told she’d go to jail if she couldn’t afford her medical treatment.
Joanne Bishop, 34, from Measham in Leicestershire, arrived in Antalya on October 15 for a week-long trip with her 12-year-old son and a friend.
She went on an off-road safari on October 21 when things took a horrible turn.
One of the vehicles hit a bump and went through a dried-up river bed, fracturing one of Joanne’s vertebrae.
She told Leicestershire Live : "I just sort of bounced straight up into the air and came back down, landed on my bum and felt something break.
"I knew something had broken, I felt it and I heard it.
"I managed to get myself onto the floor and was screaming 'stop'.
"Everyone was looking at me and I looked at the German guy opposite me saying 'I'm really hurt, make them stop'."
The jeep came to a halt and the driver called an ambulance.
Joanne said the pain was so great that she was shaking and she couldn't breathe properly.
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She was taken to a private hospital for treatment where she was eventually diagnosed with a spinal injury.
"My sister was trying to sort out my medical insurance but because of Covid-19 and I was in Turkey which apparently had been put on the restricted list my insurance had been null and void," Joanne said.
When she asked the hospital what would happen if she couldn't pay, a doctor allegedly replied: "You will go to jail."
The safari company eventually agreed to pay the £2,000 after she signed a waiver to say that the accident was not their fault.
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But Joanne couldn't afford the £500 a night it cost to stay at the private hospital while she recovered.
She was transferred to a cheaper public hospital by taxi despite her pain levels, which was being used to treat coronavirus patients and had no beds available.
The British Embassy then told her she needed to fly home, but repatriation would also cost thousands – which she also could not afford.
Joanne flew back to the UK on October 22, wearing a back brace and sitting upright having taken a large dosage of diazepam.
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She was taken straight to Bristol Royal Infirmary which confirmed that she had fractured her T-10 vertebrae.
The injury could take anywhere from three months to 12 months to heal completely, meaning that Joanne will be unable to work for months.
A spokesperson for tifgroup, which handles claims for Boots travel insurance, said: “We are very sorry to hear about Joanne Bishop’s accident in Turkey, and we hope that she is on the mend.
"Unfortunately our policies, like most other policies in the industry, will not cover you if you travel against Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) advice, which recommended against people travelling to Turkey two weeks before she went there.
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"This is an industry-standard and we always advise our customers to check the FCDO government website before travelling.
"It’s also very important that people understand their travel insurance policies which in this instance make it quite clear that she would not be covered in these circumstances."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the single mum while she is unable to work, which can be found here.
Since returning from Turkey, she and her son have been in self-isolation.
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