The Spanish Health Service

Published on 15 June 2023 at 08:00

I have experienced quite a bit more of the Spanish Health Service than I would have liked, but I guess that is a by-product of getting older. I have already had hip and knee replacements, and am currently waiting for my second hip operation.


Before COVID there was a system by which if you were waiting for a replacement, once you had seen the specialist who authorized the operation there was a time limit of three months for a hip and six months for a knee, within which you would have a confirmed date. If this could not happen then you would be transferred to a private hospital, at no cost of course!


Unfortunately, COVID has caused a backlog in operations, and I am currently waiting for six months for my hip,  but my doctor at the health centre is doing her best to help me with pain management.


It is difficult not to make comparisons between here and the UK. I remember when my first husband was ill, and our doctor sent us straight to A&E. I drove there and pulled up at the entrance when I was immediately told I couldn’t stop there but would have to park in the car park. So, I moved the car down into the car park, went and bought a parking ticket, then walked up to the A&E and asked for a wheelchair. Then I had to go back to the car, where I struggled to help my husband into the wheelchair, followed by further struggling uphill to the A&E entrance. We then waited over three hours before seeing anyone in triage.


In comparison in our local hospital in Huércal Overa (a town that features a lot in “A Woman Scorned”) there is one road into the “Urgencias” area with a ramp up by the entrance where the ambulances deliver patients. A while ago my current husband felt unwell, bad enough that I asked my brother to drive us to the Urgencias in Huércal. There were two ambulances up on the ramp but I told my brother to drive up next to the door, behind one of the ambulances. Immediately a nurse came out with a wheelchair and assisted me in getting John in it, then we were wheeled straight to a desk where they took his details. Anybody arriving with a serious problem is seen immediately but, as John was uncomfortable but not in dire need, we waited. Meanwhile my brother parked in the free car park. Later, having been seen, diagnosed, treated and given a prescription, we arrived back home just a few hours later. 


I am very happy with the health care here. However, there is one thing I neither like nor understand. For a nation that loves its coffee, how come every meal is served with a large mug of lukewarm (if you are lucky) milk and a sachet of Nescafé decaffeinated coffee! Really?  This next time I am taking some chocolate drink mix and a battery powered whizzer!

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