Still Impressed by the Spanish Health System?

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18 Mar 2011 00:00 by mike_walsh Star rating in Torrevieja. 603 posts Send private message

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I am not as quick as I used to be to praise the Spanish health service. A 69-year old friend with a history of heart problems asked for an echocardiogram. Concerned; he did so having been told by two UK doctors he was being wrongly prescribed. The Spanish doctor conceded the point. The cardiogram would ensure he received the right prescription.

 Now an echocardiogram is pretty routine stuff. When I asked my UK doctor for one it was sorted by a nurse in a few minutes in an adjoining room. The doctor checked it and revealed I had suffered a heart attack months earlier; I was immediately treated.
 
When my friend here in Torrevieja asked for an echocardiogram appointment the soonest he could be seen was four months hence. He pointed out that he would then be on holiday. He was told; cancel the holiday or September 2nd. Nearly six months for a simple heart test.
 
Sting in the tail; they will not modify the wrong prescription until they get that September prognosis. Let’s hope he is still living. Sorry, Spain. Fail!


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18 Mar 2011 19:44 by Comadreja Star rating in the Sierra de Cadiz. 51 posts Send private message

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 A very alarming story Mike, but  couldn't it just as easily have happened in the UK?  My 84-year-old father-in-law had to wait nearly a year to have arterial stents fitted, a simple enough procedure - and he had three heart attacks in the meantime.  After the last one, he was kicked out at  6.30 a.m. and had to ring for a taxi to get himself home, 20 miles away - still in his pyjamas.

You can't judge the state of a country's services by one example.





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18 Mar 2011 20:31 by Oldun Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

That situation would be a worry to my wife and I. We are at present living in France where we have found the health service to be second to none. We are considering a move to Spain  (warmer) . I was under the immpression that the health care in Spain was almost up to the level of France.

If my wife has a blood test before 10am we can pick the results up the same day. Should there be any problems the Clinic would contact the Doctor, who in turn would contact my wife. A situation arose a couple of years ago after a blood test, by late afternoon my wife was in Hospital. Through medication and regular tests she is now enjoying life. 

If we move south to the Murcia region could we expect anything similar to the above, or should we stay north of the Spanish border.  





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18 Mar 2011 20:55 by mike_walsh Star rating in Torrevieja. 603 posts Send private message

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Comadreja; I agree with you but the situation today was procedural and so is standard practice. The doctor pointed out, before the echocardiogram was asked for, that there are long waits. That is the difference. It seems that your father-in-law's experience was procedural too.

I wasn't setting one against the other. I have always thought Spain's health service second only to that of France. My own experience, and that of others, (I am a local journalist) suggests that all health services fall short of what we have right to expect; Britain's too. That is worrying.

Oldun! As I write this I can't see your location in France (Europe's biggest country if we don't count the Ukraine) so are you in a nice climate or er, Calais? From what I have heard, and you tell, I would be inclined to stay where you are. An article of mine that appears in the Euro Weekly News: 'Spanish Health Centres are Health Hazards' brought me a very responsive mailbag.

Click http://www.euroweeklynews.com/ then 'columnists' and the 'mike walsh' (hope it's allowed)

 



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18 Mar 2011 21:39 by bobaol Star rating. 1949 posts Send private message

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 Again, different places, different experiences.  After a fall and breaking a rib, I went to the hospital in Torrevieja last summer.  I was seen within 5 minutes by a triage nurse, prioritised and seen by a doctor within 10 minutes.  After a few questions, I had an ECG there and then, whisked off in a wheelchair to X-ray and back on the consultation ward.  Results back within 10 minutes and rib strapped.  Given a prescription for pain killers and Omeprazol and left the hospital some 30 minutes after I'd walked in.  The 3 prescriptions cost 11.80 at the local pharmacy.  And all this on an EHIC.

 





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18 Mar 2011 21:53 by mike_walsh Star rating in Torrevieja. 603 posts Send private message

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We know you excel at playing the devil's advocate, Bob. I will go with you someway on this though. I suggested that my friend go straight to A & E at Torrevieja Hospital. There, complain he has chest pains and he will be wired up in minutes. It just seems a shame that one has to adopt such measures to get treated. By the way: Did you really break a rib, Bob, or where you just in need of a little TLC?



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18 Mar 2011 22:17 by bobaol Star rating. 1949 posts Send private message

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 No, I broke a rib, well, cracked it..  Last August.  This is the only time I have ever had to use the Spanish health system despite taking out insurance and carrying an EHIC (E111 prior to that) in the last ten years.  It's the only comment I can make on it and I found it excellent.  I have not yet had the experience of a GP in Spain but, after working for GPs in UK for 15 years, I can assure you I was very impressed with the hospital compared with what I saw there.  Everyone turning up at the hospital are assessed by a triage nurse and blood gasses and BP are taken.  The receptionist listened to my explanation in Spanish and then said English might be easier.  (I do find people are very helpful when you at least try).  Neither the nurse nor the doctor spoke much English so I was very happy that I have bothered to learn the language (after eating the spare ones in restaurants, it was quite simple to remember the word costilla).

So we all relate things as to our own experiences.  Your experience (or that of your friend) was poor so you rate it poor.  I, on the hand, thought it was excellent because I received excellent care (even getting the print out from the doctor to give to my GP in UK). so I think it is excellent.  I'm sure it must be somewhere between the two.

 





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19 Mar 2011 12:53 by JazII Star rating in Mar Menor and UK. 133 posts Send private message

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Unfortunately both my mother and father were badly mis-diagnosed years apart by British health system therefore I don't have too much faith in what's on offer.  

 

On the other hand, the Spanish health system appears to offer a much higher standard of diagnosis and care but being able to describe your symptoms in Spanish is (in my view) essential.  We hear nothing but praise from friends of ours who've had to use the system on several occasions.

 

Likewise the Pharmacists offer a fantastic service in Spain, although again a reasonable knowledge of Spanish is essential in order to describe your symptoms else confusion can arise.  Recently I had to pop in to pick up some medication for my OH and they provided an excellent serivce, well above what I've received in the UK.  I left feeling very satisfied.  However on a closing note, I'd again like to highlight that a knowledge of Spanish was essential since the staff spoke very limited English.

 



This message was last edited by JazII on 19/03/2011.



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20 Mar 2011 10:40 by Toddie Star rating in Nr Elche Alicante Hu.... 110 posts Send private message

 

What is the first thing brits always say about foreigners in the UK,   " Why dont they learn the bloody language "  well the same applies here, this is Spain not the UK, having said that there are far more people in the service sector here in Spain that can converse in English and various other languages, cant say that about the UK !!    Normally if you try a few words of Spanish they will appreciate the fact you have tried and then come back to you with perfect English !

Having said that my family, friends, neighbours and I have all had experience of the health service on all different levels, from childhood problems to cancer treatment. I have a close friend that is currently receiving medical treatment for a serious illness which would possibly be denied in the UK because it is to expensive.  On rare occasions yes there have been a few complaints but overall the health service is excellent and the UK could learn a lot from here, one thing comes to mind cleanliness in hospitals !   On a recent trip back to the UK  I bacame unwell and needed to see a doctor, I was told the earliest appointment would be two weeks later, I decided it would be quicker to fly back home and get the treatment I needed here ! 

It maybe different in other regions but from experience I can say the Southern Costa Blanca has an excellent health service for which we are all very grateful.  



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20 Mar 2011 11:27 by mike_walsh Star rating in Torrevieja. 603 posts Send private message

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But, the post, if you read it is unambiguous: An echocardiogram is a routine procedure often carried out by a trained nurse. The deed done the doctor surveys the results; diagnosis and prescribes medicine (or operation). It is little more arduous than a check up and a solution at a dentist.  In England it is done and dusted on request within the week. I know from first hand experience. My son, who is a doctor, also confirms it.

Here in Torrevieja. For a 69-year old person with a severe heart condition and at high risk of a stroke, to be given inappropriately medicine and no choice but to remain on it until an echocardiogram can be arranged FOUR MONTHS hence is worse than Third World standards. It is shameful.

We are dealing with facts; not overall impressions. There is a difference. The same delay would occur for ALL heart condition related patients. He was not the unfortunate in the wrong place, wrong time. I wish people would not try to move goal posts and worse, try to justify the unjustifiable. Let’s see if their take on it, when it happens to them or their loved ones, is as well defended and excused. 
 
PS What on earth has the language got to do with it? The unfortunate gentleman was accompanied by a Spanish interpreter of excellent standing. Why bring language in to it?

 



This message was last edited by mike_walsh on 20/03/2011.

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20 Mar 2011 11:50 by Bri Star rating in North. 653 posts Send private message

 But the title of the thread is 'Still impressed by the Spanish Health System?' so it is only reasonable that people come on and talk about their own experiences!!   What a family thinks about a health service is going to depend entirely on their own experience of it - so don't get me started on the inadequacy of the NHS in relation to my family!!!   If you are lucky enough not to be judging by experience i.e. you have not needed the health service in either country for anything serious, you can only go by world rankings (in which Spain is a long way ahead of the NHS) or other peoples' experience.  So it is no use getting ratty if people want to talk about their own contacts with the Spanish Health System.  



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20 Mar 2011 12:01 by Toddie Star rating in Nr Elche Alicante Hu.... 110 posts Send private message

 

 

I also speak from FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE TOO,  from car accidents, serious health issues to everyday health care. Over the past ten years my family and I have experienced the service of Torrevieja, Vega Baja and Alicante hospitals, plus a private hospital in Espinardo.  There are some unfortunate cases, no different from the UK , but in general from our first hand experience the health care we receive here in Spain as been of an excellent standard.

The title to this thread is STILL IMPRESSED BY THE SPANISH HEALTH SYSTEM ? 

So just giving my honest answer to the question,  yes we are thank you  !!!

 

 

 



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20 Mar 2011 12:06 by James Atkinson Star rating. 2 posts Send private message

Hi to  all. This is a first posting for me. I have had several elctrocardiograms in the past, and my experiece for me  has been that the three doctors surgeries I have been a patient of all had them. They were available right away. Electro Cardiograms are still available as far as I am aware, but Echo cardiograms which use sound waves and produce colour pictures of the heart in operation are a much more expensive piece of kit and more restricted in terms of access, at least here in the uk.

 

 





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21 Mar 2011 09:56 by jeanie60 Star rating. 103 posts Send private message

 We have been at the mercy of the spanish health sytsem now for 6 weeks and i thank god.

My husband has been seriously ill and still is.

When admitted to Torrevieja hospital by the doctor on urgency he has been treated i think by some of the best surgeons and nurses.

But like the uk there are good and bad and i dont speak a lot of spanish yet and it can be very frustrating.

He has had 2 keyhole ops and another main, i dont realy want to talk about what they have found but they found it!!!

He is home for 2 weeks to build his strength up as he is so frail then he will go back in for major surgery and the surgeons have got to gether to do a double op.

Now i wont say im not concerned but this has to happen or he wont live long and he will carry on to suffer great pain.

I will say that he would not have had what was to me this special treatment had we been in the uk and so quick.

Torrevieja hospital  for me

Jeanie





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21 Mar 2011 11:44 by Toddie Star rating in Nr Elche Alicante Hu.... 110 posts Send private message

Jeanie,  So sorry to hear of your husband's problems, Im sure he will receive excellent treatment and I hope all goes well for you both.

 



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21 Mar 2011 12:02 by Oldun Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

Thanks Mike for the interesting article.

My wife has a monthly blood test for heart problems  and we get the results the same day (France).  Are there any forum members who have regular blood tests In Spain, if so what is the waiting time for the results. I am intersted in moving to Murcia,

I believe there is a new Clinic on Camposol. If anyone has experience of this clinic I would be most grateful for a reply. 





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21 Mar 2011 12:28 by georgia Star rating in Algorfa (As seen on .... 1918 posts Send private message

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 I was involved in quite a serious accident last summer and only have the highest praise for the Spanish Health Service.

I was taken to the Vega Baja hospital by ambulance and then transfered to Alicante Genral when the staff realised very quickly i needed specialist treatment.

In both hospitals the treatement was very fast and second to none,although the staff spoke to me in Spanish (as expected), the doctor did say to me after a while in English,that what he was going to do next was going to really hurt and i was allowed to scream and swear in English if i wished, alittle humour works wonders in these situations.

They took great pride in reassuring me that they were the best in their field and that Spain as a whole leads the way in many ground breaking surgical procedures.

After my treatment i totally agree.

After my stay in Hospital they even called an ambulance to take me home (one hour away), i would have expected to call family or at least a taxi,they looked very suprised when i said this.

I have some good experiences with the NHS but also some very very bad ones........

To answer the thread title.....Yes,more than impressed!



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21 Mar 2011 18:26 by Comadreja Star rating in the Sierra de Cadiz. 51 posts Send private message

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 QUOTE: "My wife has a monthly blood test for heart problems  and we get the results the same day (France).  Are there any forum members who have regular blood tests In Spain, if so what is the waiting time for the results. "

 

My partner is diabetic and gets a blood test every six months at our local public consultorio.  They take about four or five days because we live in a village  and the samples have to be sent away to the city.

He says that the results sheets are far more detailed than the ones he had in the UK.  They test for many more factors (including prostate cancer) and give more accurate readings: whereas in the UK the cholesterol level is given as "< 40 mg/dL", here it gives the actual figure.





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21 Mar 2011 20:59 by suemac Star rating in Jumilla, Murcia. 1015 posts Send private message

Oldun

We are fortunate in not having needed to test out the Spanish health system yet, however we live in the Murcia region and many of our British friends have needed medical treatment out here.  They have nothing but praise for the treatment they have received in Spain, which they say has been better than they would have received in the UK.  We hope that we won't need to try out the Spanish Health System for a long time, however we have been reassured by our friends' experiences.

Sue



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21 Mar 2011 21:21 by TechNoApe Star rating in Duquesa, Manilva. 1291 posts Send private message

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Oldun,

"I was under the impression that the health care in Spain was almost up to the level of France."

Yes! It is!

I have seen Doctors and a Dentists here in Spain, before and after our move, and both are far superior to anything I encountered in the UK!



This message was last edited by TechNoApe on 21/03/2011.

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