Health advice, doctors and medical centres for foreigners
By Duncan Rhodes
Health advice for both travellers and expats, including a list of medical centres with English speaking doctors and practitioners.
Spain, and in particular Catalonia, holds an enviable reputation for the quality of its public and private healthcare, and in fact many countries, the UK included, has recruited Spanish doctors and nurses on a large scale to fill vacancies in their own health systems. Unfortunately, these times of crisis and cutbacks in public spending, are putting a strain on Spain / Catalonia’s public healthcare and it’s more important than ever to know and consider all your options.
Obviously whether you’re here as a tourist, or for the medium to long term will determine what advice and precautions and – in the event of needing medical attention – what steps you will need to take to access it. On this page we’ll try to give some basic information to some often complex questions, as well provide some handy names, addresses, websites and contact details.
Health Advice for Travellers
The most important piece of advice for any European traveller coming to Spain is to apply for their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if they haven’t already. It entitles the holder to free healthcare in 32 European countries (or same cost as healthcare in holder’s nation) and is also free to obtain. UK residents can find out more about applying for the EHIC here (you can both apply and renew online), whilst those from other nations can find out how to apply for their card on the European Commission’s website, on this page.
In case of needing treatment you will need to be able to produce a valid card (in other words check the expiry date of your card before you travel!) and your passport.
The prudent traveller may also want to take our travel insurance, as this usually also covers repatriation flights and private medical expenses (although do check the individual policy of the insurer in question and whether they cover the entire costs or there is a waiver), not to mention the fact that travel insurance also covers lost luggage, stolen goods (a common danger in Barcelona) and other eventualities.
For American, Australian and other non-Eu travellers, insurance is a must, as although you will be treated in the case of an emergency you will also be asked to pay your medical bills.
In the case of an emergency you should call 112 for an ambulance. This number is free of charge, and the Spanish word for A&E department is “urgencias”. For minor problems you could take advantage of the Catalonia’s excellent farmàcias (pharmacies), where the men and women in white coats often have some advice, not to mention plenty of pills and remedies (many of which aren’t available in the UK without a prescription!) to sort out your ails.
Finally you’ll be playing a bit of lingo lottery if you don’t speak Spanish (or Catalan), so we’ve tried to come up with some private practitioners who speak English… see further down the page.
Health Advice for Expats
The picture for expats is a fair bit more complicated, but essentially if you are gainfully employed, or registered in Spain as self-employed (“autonomo”), then you will be paying social security that in turn entitles you to free healthcare. However you may have to apply for your Tarjeta Sanitaria (health card) in order to see a doctor at a public clinic / hospital. The best resource we can find for now is the Spanish version of the health section of the Generalitat de Catalunya’s website (the English version seems like a work in process!) for more on how to register.
Medical Centres & Practitioners
In Barcelona Life’s Services section we’ve listed several useful contact names and addresses of various healthcare providers, and you can start your search there, or check this list of some professional service providers.
A godsend for anglophonic expats and travellers alike, at The Turo Park Medical Clinic you can book an appointment with English-speaking doctors in virtually every field of medicine, including family medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, dentistry, orthodontics, dermatology, otolaryngology, cardiology, infectious diseases and travel medicine, speech therapy, physiotherapy, as well as aesthetic medicine and cosmetic surgery. They can also perform blood tests, electrocardiograms and other analyses, such as biorhythm analysis, if you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, and services such as laser treatments for removal of skin blemishes and scar reduction. The clinic is modern and professional and as well as emailing or calling their multi-lingual receptionists you can also book an appointment online. For more info check out their website.
A very useful address if your Spanish isn’t up to much, Dr. Steven Joseph is an English speaking doctor with his own private clinic here in Barcelona, in the Les Corts district (near Camp Nou stadium). He offers general practice and mental health services as well as specialist referrals.www.googolmedicalcentre.com
Established by two leading ophthalmologists, with international experience, the team of specialists at Visioncore offer their services in the fields of cornea and ocular surface, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, refractive surgery, retina and pediatric ophthalmology.
If you’re anything like the Barcelona Life team then you spend way too long in front of a computer everyday, before taking some time off work to look at your computer some more. None of which is very good for your back, neck and shoulders. The good news for the digital generation is that the Dutch / German team (who speak perfect English) at this clinic can treat back conditions with a mix of physiotherapy and manual therapy (and dry needling on request), as well as any number of conditions derived from sports injuries, work related injuries, pregnancy related issues or post surgery rehabilitation.
Imma Sarries Zgonc in an independent midwife who offers private homebirth services and support through all the stages of pregnancy (and the early stages of infancy). She speaks English, German, French, Spanish and Catalan.
For rapid HIV testing make an appointment at this clinic in Raval.