Health centres in Spain are located within 15 minutes of any place of residence and if necessary a patient can be seen at their own home. In rural areas and in small villages there are local surgeries open on certain days with visits from healthcare staff from the region. Hospitals offer specialised attention, with access via referral from primary healthcare services. There are also Accident and Emergency services available at hospitals and some health centres, and more information can be found at the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo
website (the Ministry of Health
Although there are waiting lists for operations in the Spanish health services, they are not as long as in the UK, and there is less of a queue because many people choose private healthcare instead, relying on the national health system just for emergencies. Generally speaking the country's medical facilities are considered good. Many doctors and nurses speak English and most hospitals and clinics in tourist areas provide interpreters. However, as the country is split into different regions, availability of services does vary, which means you could need to travel to a different area for treatment if the facilities are not available locally.
In 1998 the Sistema Sanitario Público (public health service) brought in an official mandate for both doctors and patients outlining the service to which they are entitled and this is listed in all doctor’s offices in a leaflet entitled Carta de Derechos y Deberes (Charter of Rights and Obligations).
Doctors in Spain are as highly qualified as in any other EU country, sometimes more so and under the Carta de Derechos y Deberes residents choose their own doctor and health care centre (Centro de Salud).