Statement from Worcester Warriors co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham
Warriors are, and always have been, committed to supporting Michael Fatialofa in his remarkable and inspiring recovery from the serious spinal injuries he suffered in the Gallagher Premiership match at Saracens on January 4.
Representatives of the club, including the medical team and the owners, were with Michael and his family at the hospital on the night of the accident and continue to support Michael now.
We are supporting Michael’s career after rugby, funding the extension of visas for Michael and his wife, Tatiana, even though he is out of contract with the club, and providing specialist rehabilitation by the club’s Head of Medical Ryan Kehoe, the most senior member of the Warriors medical team.
When Michael was discharged from the Intensive Care Unit of St Mary’s Hospital in London in February there were no available beds in specialist spinal units through the NHS at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for two to three weeks.
The club was asked to fund the first two to three weeks of private treatment in the Royal Buckinghamshire Private Hospital next door which benefited from the same consultants and had beds available. The club agreed to pay for four weeks in case it was needed through the RugbyCare scheme, which spreads the cost for the club.
Stoke Mandeville is a world-class spinal unit but the club had planned to increase Michael’s physiotherapy hours given his needs as a professional athlete.
At the expiry of the four weeks the NHS were still not ready to provide a bed and Royal Bucks had to continue providing care until the NHS was ready to transfer Michael. In situations such as this a claim is made to the Clinical Commissioning Group which the club’s doctor, Nick Tait, made sure was done.
The club heard nothing further and RugbyCare have confirmed they were never asked to authorise or fund a further extension by the Royal Bucks.
Michael remained in the Royal Bucks until he was discharged in early June and has since returned to Sixways where he is continuing his rehabilitation with Ryan four days a week.
We are concerned and disappointed to hear that Michael has received a bill for unpaid medical fees. There are no unpaid fees owed by the club, our booking made by RugbyCare has already been paid in full.
But we will work closely with the hospital and local Clinical Commissioning Group to understand any issues and help resolve the situation to ensure that Michael can concentrate solely on his rehabilitation at Sixways with the full and continued support of the club.
We will continue to go over and above what is expected of the club to support Michael and Tatiana financially and practically.
The fundraising day for Michael which was scheduled to take place in April but which was postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic will be rearranged once we have fixtures for the 2020/21 season.
Shirts, which were specially-commissioned for that day, will also go on sale shortly with the proceeds supporting the fund that has been set up for Michael which has already raised more than £40,000.
Michael is also working closely with Lynette Cutting, our excellent Education Officer, on planning for a career away from rugby. We are proud to provide this service to our players and it is one that the vast majority benefit from, helping them to forge successful careers – inside and outside of rugby – once they have stopped, or been forced to stop, playing.
Last year Warriors set up an Ambassador Programme and a Past Players Charitable Trust to raise money to provide support former Warriors players from the professional era and their family members in their hour of need.
We appreciate the contribution that every single player that has worn a Warriors shirt has made to the success of the club over the years.
Michael and Tatiana are important and valued members of the Warriors Family and we will ensure that they are supported and cared for.