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Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services

Spain - Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services

If you need a doctor in Spain it is simply a case of going along to your local health centre (centro de salud). Spain boasts that no resident is more than 15 minutes away from the nearest health centre. It is also possible to visit a general doctor (medico de cabecera). All doctors surgeries need to provide copies of the charter of rights for patients (carta de derechos y deberes).

All doctors need to be regulated by the national medical college and before they can begin work they need to prove that they are a member of this college. This ensures that the doctor has recognised qualifications. The medical training in Spain is just as strict as it is in any other country and many Spanish doctors have spent time working in other EU countries, so finding a doctor that speaks good English or another European language is relatively easy. Spain also boasts many doctors from other countries.

Finding a doctor is fairly easy. Doctors are allowed to advertise and many of the newspapers carry advertisements for doctor’s surgeries. All surgeries are also listed in the Spanish Yellow Pages under the heading ‘Medicos’. Those who are working in Spain do not necessarily have to register with a surgery, but those who qualify for free healthcare will need to be sure that they are registered as the systems used for each are different.

In some areas that have a high population patients may find that they are waiting for appointments and when they get an appointment at a busy surgery the doctor may only have a few minutes for them. It is standard practice to give out the same appointment time to several patients and each also has a number which shows their level of priority. This is not a popular system and those who can afford it often opt for private healthcare for this reason.

It has been tradition in Spain for patients to keep their own medical records, although computerisation allows records to be kept at surgeries too. However, this is not always the case and it is a good idea to check the system which is used at your local surgery and keep accurate records of your own. Those who have a long-term medical condition should provide a statement from their doctor in their home country so that the Spanish medical staff knows what they are dealing with.

It is the GP who will refer patients for specialist treatment. Most areas have every type of treatment available although the situation does vary so occasionally you may need to travel to another region for specialist treatment. Most private healthcare policies will only authorise specialist consultations if the patient has been referred by a GP. If you use the public healthcare system you may find that there is a long waiting time for an appointment. This is another reason why many people prefer private healthcare.

If it is needed and if you live in a reasonably well-populated area a doctor will still call at your home, although some may be reluctant to do so and in a rural area this could be a problem.

There is no provision within the social security system for dental treatment so private healthcare will be needed to cover these costs. A dentist (dentist) can be found in the Yellow Pages and some large supermarkets have an integral dental practice. The cost of visiting the dentist is comparable with similar treatment in the UK but the dental service offered in Spain is considered to be excellent.

Other services such as mental health and counselling organisations are in existence in many parts of Spain but these are not available through the social security system and must be paid for. There are branches of the Samaritans in different parts of the country and each area does have regional counselling services which can be found in the Yellow Pages.

Useful Resources

General Council of Official Colleges of Physicians of Spain
www.cgcom.org (website has English option)
Tel: 91 431 77 80
Email: webmaster@cgcom.es

Counselling in Spain
Directory of counselling groups

Costa Blanca Samaritans
Tel: 902 88 35 35

Ministry of Health website (in Spanish and English)

Read more about this country

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