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Health Service (SAS)

If you are on a waiting list to see a specialist, obtain diagnostic tests or have surgery, the important thing to know is that there are very specific legal guidelines regarding how long you can be kept waiting.

If you are a public health user, the good news is that you have a long list of rights, thirty to be exact, and only six responsibilities. The bad news is that many of your rights are not yet a reality. However, knowledge is power and therefore it's important to know what you're entitled to in order to at least ask for it.

Our regional health service is a vast system that can be broken down into the following areas: Primary Care. In 2007 there were more than 5,200 General Practitioners - or medicos de familia - working in nearly 1,500 public clinics, or Centros de Atención Primaria (CAP)

Andalucia's Living Will registry was created at the end of 2003 in order to ensure patients wishes regarding medical procedures are respected in situations where they are unable to make or express their decisions. Any adult or officially "emancipated" minor can register a living will. Its contents will be private and thus only available to the doctor attending the patient during a time of crises.

At the beginning of 2007 the Andalucian Regional Health services began to offer a special interpreter service via mobile telephone. The service works by providing administrative staff and doctors with mobile telephones that connect them with a call centre staffed by interpreters.

You do have the right to choose your doctor as well as a paediatrician for children under seven. For children aged seven to fourteen parents can either opt for a paediatrician or a GP. Choosing a doctor is a fairly straightforward process if you know your rights and follow these guidelines.

Primary Care Centres - Centros de Atención Primaria (CAP) in Spanish - are located throughout big cities as well as towns and villages across Andalucia. This is where you will meet your General Practitioner (GP) or Médico de Família and it is also where you will find a wide range of other services. However, the actual range of services depends on the centre, as those serving smaller villages may depend on larger centres for specialists, technologies and public health programmes.

The National Institute of Social Security or branded as 'Seguredad Social' (used known to everyone as the INSS) is the state body that administers Social Security Health Care and state retirement and disability Pensions. They have a network of offices throughout Spain.

Every year in Spain around 8,000 people see their lives improved thanks to a very efficient and effective organ donor programme. There is a national organ transplant coordination centre, but alot of work is required at the regional level too – and this is handled through the Andalucian regional health service.

Andalucia has one of the highest levels of organ donor participation in Spain and possibly Europe. This is measured by the percentage of the population that agrees to donate organs and tissues of recently passed loved ones.

In Andalucia the acronym SAS is more likely to conjure up images of healthcare than air travel. It stands for Servicio Andaluz de Salud, or Andalucian Health Service and is run by the regional government.

Private ambulance services provide a 24-hour service in most towns and are listed by town under Ambulances in the Yellow Pages. Most clinics and private hospitals also operate their own ambulance services. Ambulances are equipped with emergency equipment such as oxygen and life-support systems and drivers and staff are trained to provide first-aid.