Former Worcestor Warriors lock Michael Fatialofa is facing another daunting challenge – a gargantuan medical bill – after making a miraculous recovery in a private hospital in England.
The 27-year-old owes R2.2 million (NZ$200,000) to Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital after his stay during which he regained the use of his legs following a a C4 vertebrae fracture and spinal contusion playing for Worcester Warriors against Saracens in January.
According to a friend, Fatialofa ‘has swapped one hell for another’ after confusion regarding the payment obligations for his four-month stay at the private medical facility.
The first month of his care – which came at a cost of £36,000 – was paid for by Worcester Warriors through the Rugby Care insurance scheme. With no bed available at the nearby Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the club was then advised that his care would be paid by the Clinical Commission Group which allows NHS patients to receive treatment in private hospitals when no comparable NHS care is available.
In total, he spent 18 weeks at Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital.
A small glimmer of hope for Fatialofa is that Worcester co-owner Colin Goldring appears to be in his corner.
‘If there are outstanding issues, we will do whatever would work to support Michael,’ Goldring said of the six-figure bill.
‘I have no idea where the penny stops, but the one thing I know is that we will support Michael in finding out and will protect him. He won’t be out of pocket because he is one of our boys. He is one of our ours and we will protect to him, we will look after him. If it turns out that Michael is held for it [the bills] then we will not stand for that. We would take advice to try to protect Michael and if needs be intervene ourselves to protect him.’
Photo: Getty Images