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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 18:13 GMT
Paralysed diver's insurance blow
Angie Gower
Ms Gower was only covered for 30m but was hurt on a 40m dive
A woman paralysed on a diving trip faces paying thousands for medical care in Egypt because her 40m dive was not covered by her standard insurance.

Angie Gower, 42, an experienced diver from Neath, south Wales, suffered spinal injuries and the bends during the dive off Hurghada, on the Red Sea.

The Post Office say they are following the terms of their insurance policy by refusing to pay for treatment.

A spokesman said her policy only covered her for dives down to 30m.

Mother-of-three Ms Gower, a member of the Neath Marlins Diving Club, flew out for the two-week trip with her partner, Mark Phillips, 33.

He remains at her hospital bedside in nearby El Gouna, where her medical bills are mounting.

Mr Phillips' father, Maurice, 68, told Radio Wales Ms Gower suffered the bends after an apparently normal dive with his son, who is a qualified diver medic and a commercial diver.

He said: "All this took off when she got back on the boat. There's no reason at all this should have happened.

'Hazardous activities'

"The health and accommodation bills are already running into their thousands. We are doing our best to help but we don't know where to turn."

Ms Gower, a psychiatric nurse, has three children, aged, 17, six and five, who are being cared for by their father at home in Neath.

Mr Phillips added: "This is such a terrible thing to happen to her. My son has not left her bedside."

Mr Phillips' mother, Gwyneth, said: "It's a rolling bill with the hospital. At the moment it's in the thousands of pounds."

A Post Office spokesman said: "Our travel insurance contract for holidaymakers clearly states that scuba-divers are covered to a maximum depth of 30 metres, which is standard across the travel insurance industry, due to the increased risks of diving at greater depths.

"This policy covers the overwhelming majority of recreational and qualified scuba-divers, with only the most advanced diving below 30 metres.

"Of course we always encourage people undertaking specialist or dangerous activities on holiday to check that they are fully covered, by calling our helpline."

Ms Gower's Welsh Assembly Member Gwenda Thomas said: "I sympathise with her situation and am trying to get her flown home as a matter of urgency."

Hyperbaric

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the case and are in regular contact with the next of kin - her husband and his family in the UK.

"Even this morning we were in contact with the family. The Honorary Consul in Cairo visited them on February 15 and we will continue to provide consular assistance.

"Now it is a question of waiting for her to be well enough to fly."

Ms Gower is not expected to be permanently paralysed as a result of her accident, and is having treatment in the hospital's hyperbaric unit.

Mrs Phillips added: "The first news we had was that Angie was paralysed from the neck down, but fortunately she's making good progress.

"The treatment is ongoing. She won't be well enough to travel until she has permission from the doctors to travel."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
"As soon as they got on the boat, the bends kicked in"



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