Nobody expects to need medical care while they are on holiday. However one thing that is almost guaranteed to make this necessary is not being prepared!
In theory the NHIC card (available free from the Post Office or online at www.ehic.org.uk) is all that is needed to obtain free medical care while on holiday in Mallorca. However, in practice it can only be used in Spanish NHS clinics and these are often not conveniently situated for tourists. English is rarely spoken in these clinics and generally foreign tourists are not welcomed with open arms.
It is highly recommended that travellers take out travel insurance before leaving home. This allows sick tourists to be seen locally, usually by English speaking Doctors in a more tourist friendly environment.
For a few extra pounds an excess waiver can be taken out with the insurance and this means that no money needs to change hands at the clinic.
But beware - a small number of policies require the patient to pay their medical bills in full and reclaim the money upon their return home - avoid these "Pay & Claim" policies and stick to the traditional policies which allow the Doctor to claim directly from the insurance company or you could find your holiday money being eaten up.
As a general rule of thumb, travel insurances sold by the travel companies, banks and post office are of good quality.
Unfortunately, in Spain the Doctors are not always as reputable, or as well trained as they are in the UK. It is not unusual for the worst Doctors to pay large commissions to holiday reps and hotel receptionists for referrals and recommendations.
Some tips to find the best doctors would include:
Call your insurance company for advice, they know which Doctors are good and which are not.
Where possible use a British GP. Where this is not possible make sure the Doctor speaks good English.
Use a Doctor who can accept your insurance without having to pay the full bill and reclaim it later.
Rely on recommendations from other holidaymakers around the pool - treat suggestions from travel reps or hotel receptionists with suspicion.
Tourists and residents use pharmacies extensively while in Spain. However, pharmacy regulations are different from the UK and so special care is needed.
For safe and efficient pharmacy use we recommend the following guidelines be strictly followed:
Only go to the pharmacy when you would in the UK.
If you would see the Doctor at home, you should see one whilst in Spain.
Ask to speak to the pharmacist, do not take advice from a shop assistant.
Spanish pharmacists are well trained professionals but their assistants may still know no more than you!
If the pharmacist does not speak good English go to another pharmacy.
Never trust your health to a game of charades with someone you cannot communicate properly with.
Do not buy products which are unavailable over the counter in the UK eg antibiotics. There are very good safety reasons for some medicines being available by prescription only in the UK.
This website was launched on 21 December 2006
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