HOSPITAS IN Andalucia by province
By Dee McMath
The quality of health care and hospital facilities in Andalucia (and throughout Spain) is generally of a high standard. Progress is always being made and in January 2005, it was announced that there was a 35% improvement in hospital service in Andalucia. There are excellent doctors, and highly trained Spanish medical staff. Major hospitals are equipped with the latest high-tech equipment and Andalucia has many excellent public and private hospitals in each of the eight provinces: Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Seville.
The large hospitals in the main cities are generally better equipped than the provincial ones and some specialise in particular areas of health and treatment than others.
Although in some hospitals in Andalucia (especially the Costa del Sol Hospital) some doctors may speak some English and there may even be help in the form of a voluntary interpreter, you should not depend on finding and English speaker if you have a hospital visit. If you do not speak Spanish, it is best to take someone along with you who can translate, in case you cannot explain your problem or do not understand the treatment.
If you live and work in Andalucia, then you must subscribe to the Seguridad Social (Social Security) and will have access the state health system. Once you are part of the system, you should apply for your Tarjeta Sanitaria (Health Card) and register with a GP (Medico de Cabeza) at your local Health Centre (Ambulatorio). You will need your Health Card when you making appointments either with a doctor or at a hospital. The Andalucian Health Service is referred to as S.A.S. (Servicio Andaluz de Salud).
Consult the list of main hospitals in Andalucia for general information on hospitals by province. When you live in Spain, local and national private health companies will usually give you a list of doctors, clinics and hospitals, which you should use in conjunction with the health plan they offer. Some health insurance companies allow you to choose the doctor and health centre. In these cases, you will normally pay the medical bill and then be reimbursed a large percentage of the cost.
If you are in the Costa del Sol area, there is a well established health insurance company called Helicopteros Sanitarios (Tel: 952 816 767) which has a 24 hour hospital transfer Service included in an ambulance and call out doctor service. As the name of the company suggests, in the case of extreme emergency and difficult access, helicopter transfer may be used. They have quite reasonable annual quotas for families and individuals. The area they cover is from Sotogrande to Torremolinos.
If you live in the EU and are visiting Spain / Andalucia (or indeed any other EU country), then you should bring the E-111 form with you. If you have the new EU health card, then you will not need to apply for the E111, since the new card contains your Social Security details. Due to the reciprocal agreement between the EU countries, this covers you under the State health system for three months. After this time, if you are still in Andalucia and are not working and registered with the Social Security, then you must get cover from a private health plan. In any case, you will need to prove that you have your own health insurance to apply for a Residence Permit, if you are planning to live in Spain if you are applying for your N.I.E. or Residency card.
Remember that if you live in Andalucia, or anywhere in Spain and have Spanish Residency - then before travelling on trips back to the UK or anywhere else in the EU, you should go to your local Social Security Office (Oficina de Seguridad Social) and apply for the E111. You will need this card to receive free medical treatment in a public hospital or health clinic while you are away from Spain. Although it is possible that you may be issued with this card on the same day you apply for it, to make sure you have the card before you travel, go a week in advance, just in case there are unforeseen delays or problems. Whenever visiting the Social Security offices in main towns in Andalucia (especially the Costa del Sol), take a good book or a newspaper - you may have a long wait in a slow moving queue. Again, if you have the new EU Health Card, then you will not need to apply for the E111.
When seeking non-urgent hospital treatment in Andalucia, you are free to choose any hospital within Andalucia. It is worth speaking to your doctor for advice on which hospital specialises in the treatment you require and how long the waiting list is likely to be. It is also important to be aware of a notable difference between UK and Spanish hospitals. It is that if a patient has on-going treatment and spends some time in hospital, a relative or friend is expected to help with the general care and often has to stay overnight with the patient. This is another consideration if choosing a hospital for a long term treatment or recovery time.