AN AMERICAN cyclist who suffered 'life-threatening' injuries after striking a large Peebles pothole has been hit by a near £14,000 NHS bill.

Children's books illustrator Kim Howard was rushed to Borders General Hospital (BGH) following the incident on Edinburgh Road in October 2021.

The 68-year-old was kept in for four days due to bleeding on the brain before being discharged.

But she continued to feel unwell and fainted at a bus stop in Edinburgh in December, breaking four teeth.

She attended A&E but after a six-hour wait no further CT scan was authorised.

On returning to the BGH for a check up later that month, severe bleeding was identified on her brain which required emergency surgery.

Ms Howard claims she was told that the operation would be free of charge.

But after she was discharged she received an invoice from NHS Lothian.

After appealing, she was told that the clinical team were ‘not able to provide advice’ on whether charges were applicable and that the overseas patient officer had unsuccessfully attempted to contact her prior to the operation.

Peeblesshire News: Kim Howard

Ms Howard said: “I was under the impression as was my insurance agent at home that my Medicare plan in the States covered me for my time here but the coverage was only for the first three months and fell short of my accident by one month.

“My principal argument is that all my hospital treatments clearly arose from the original pothole crash and the Borders General [Hospital] misdiagnosed the seriousness of the brain bleed."

On her visit to the BGH in December, Ms Howard said: "The orthopaedic surgeon shared the screen with a second doctor, a neurosurgeon in Edinburgh, and the CT Scan showed a large brain bleed.

The infirmary neurosurgeon judged that this was an emergency and to come into ERI immediately. I was driven there straight ahead as I had a life-threatening brain bleed.

“I asked the team if I could fly home to Idaho, USA where I am covered by Medicare but doctors told me that I could not board an aeroplane and that I needed immediate attention.

“I was told by three neurosurgeons at the Edinburgh Royal infirmary that I would not be charged as it was an absolute emergency.

Peeblesshire News: Potholes on Edinburgh Road. Note these photograph were taken some time after the accidentPotholes on Edinburgh Road. Note these photograph were taken some time after the accident (Image: Kim Howard)

"I think the issue is with what NHS Lothian are terming aftercare as opposed to emergency treatment."

Dr Tracey Gillies, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “We would urge Ms Howard to get in contact with us to discuss directly.

“NHS Lothian follows national guidance for all overseas visitors who receive hospital treatment in one of our sites. Accident & emergency and observation ward areas are free of charge to all patients however, charges may apply for further care.

“In line with this guidance, Ms Howard has not been charged for emergency treatment but is liable for her follow up treatment and aftercare costs in NHS Lothian.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “We are extremely sorry to hear of Ms Howard’s very unfortunate incident.

"However, as the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings we are unable to comment any further.”