"Farnworth Rose explain your rights where holiday illness is concerned"
Claiming for holiday illness abroad in the UK
Hundreds of holidaymakers returning to the UK from Egypt, Turkey, Cuba and the Dominican Republic made complaints of holiday illness during 2010 and this is continuing into 2011. Complaints about poor standards of food and hygiene in holiday hotels have been flooding in to personal injury solicitors during the past 12 months and those suffering from illness report symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
If you are planning to travel abroad for your holidays and you are worried about illness in your holiday package tour hotel, make sure you take along plenty of medication for gastric illness. You may be able to buy medication in the country you are travelling to, but it is worth remembering that many medicines sold abroad are actually banned in the UK for various reasons. If you become ill whilst staying at an all-inclusive hotel, gather as much evidence as possible if standards of hygiene and food are low and never accept excuses by the holiday rep if you are convinced your illness was caused as a result of consuming contaminated food or drink provided by the holiday hotel or by the negligence of the tour operator.
Food which is prepared in unhygienic surroundings or inadequately cooked is not acceptable and, whether you are staying at an all inclusive resort or in a package tour hotel, you are entitled to expect good, properly prepared and served food and good standards of hygiene. Severe holiday illness, especially when caused by E.coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella or Cryptosporidium, can last for weeks or even months and ongoing symptoms can affect sufferers for years to come. When contaminated food is served to hundreds of people in the restaurant of a holiday hotel, an outbreak of illness can quickly occur.
It is vital you take out travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday because, if you don't and you have to cancel your holiday as a result of illness or health problems, you may experience great difficulties in making a claim. Travel insurance is also important as, if you need medical treatment abroad, you will probably need this to cover any medical expenses not covered by your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) which will help you get free or subsidised emergency treatment in Europe if you fall ill.
Use your common sense when travelling abroad and trust your instincts when it comes to food. If it appears undercooked or lukewarm or if the same food is served reheated day after day, refuse to eat it and inform the holiday representative.
You have a legal right not to be exposed to illness when staying at a hotel which is part of a package tour and regular inspections of hotels must be carried out by tour operators if they have seen previous outbreaks of illness among guests.
If you are planning to book a holiday abroad in a package tour hotel, consider the following:
- Collect as much information as you can about your destination before you travel and try to identify any health risks you may encounter by contacting the National Travel Health & Network Centre
- Pack a first aid kit including any regular medication you take, painkillers, antiseptic cream, plasters, bandages, medication for gastric illness, mosquito repellent, antiseptic cream and rehydration salts
- If you are travelling outside Europe, check with your GP if you require any vaccinations to prevent disease while you are on holiday
- If you suffer illness at your package tour hotel abroad, make an immediate complaint to the tour representative and make a note of their name. Speak to other guests at the hotel who may also be suffering similar symptoms to you. Write their names down together with contact details as you may be able to bring a joint claim against the tour operator when you return to the UK
- If you are asked to stay in your room to prevent the spread of your illness by hotel staff, ask for written confirmation of the reason you need to be isolated and if you are asked by a doctor to provide a stool sample, ask the reason why and for written confirmation of the results
- You should always seek the advice of a doctor in your holiday resort and make an appointment to see your local GP when you return to the UK. Never assume you are clear of the illness even if your symptoms seem to have cleared up, as you could still be carrying harmful bacteria
- If the tour operator offers you compensation in the form of money, vouchers or a cut price holiday, refuse to accept it until you have taken legal advice and never sign any documents which may affect your right to claim compensation in the future
- If possible, take photographic evidence of poor standards of hygiene and food in the holiday hotel. Use a camera phone or video camera if possible
If you have become ill abroad, we can help you claim compensation, providing the negligence of the tour operator caused your illness. We work on a no win, no fee basis, and Anne Thomson, Head of our Holiday Illness Claims Department, will help you claim the compensation you deserve. Call Anne Thomson on: 080001 54321 or fill in the online claim form.