Is it easy to get medical help in Spain?

Is it easy to get medical help in Spain?

Spain, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history, is often hailed as one of the world's most appealing travel destinations. One aspect travelers may sometimes overlook is the importance of securing excellent, easily accessible medical aid when abroad. Fortunately, the Spanish healthcare system is well equipped to provide outstanding services, making it significantly easy to receive medical help in Spain. In 2019, Spain’s healthcare system was ranked the third-best in the world by Bloomberg.

Public Healthcare in Spain

Spain's public healthcare system, Sistema Nacional de Salud or SNS, is funded by the state and generally free to all residents, including EU citizens possessing a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Spain has an impressive number of medical facilities and healthcare professionals. WHO data reveals that the country has more than 300 health workers per 10,000 population, reflecting a considerable depth in its healthcare provision. An average waiting time for specialist consultation is around 48 days, which is still favourable compared to many other countries.

Private Healthcare in Spain

In addition to a robust public healthcare system, Spain also boasts a vibrant private sector known for its efficiency and high standards. Private healthcare facilities offer shorter waiting times and offer more flexibility and personalisation in care. A private insurance policy may be beneficial if you plan to stay in Spain longer than 90 days but do not qualify for public healthcare.

Emergency Services in Spain

In case of a medical emergency, Spain offers excellent emergency services. The general emergency number is 112, which is free to call and available 24/7. Emergency Care centres, Urgencias, are found in hospitals throughout Spain, providing immediate care at no cost, even for tourists without an EHIC. Emergency treatment can be sought directly at these centres without an appointment.

A Wide Range of Medical Specialties

As an established healthcare haven, Spain offers a wide range of specialist medical support. Whether you require primary care from a family doctor, a specialist consultation, or surgical intervention, you can expect top-notch healthcare in Spain. Specialist areas of note include cardiology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, and dermatology, with Spain also being a global leader in organ transplants.

Pharmacies and Medication

Spain has an extensive network of pharmacies, easily identifiable by a green cross sign. Many pharmacists can communicate in English and are highly knowledgeable, often able to provide advice on minor health concerns. Medications that require prescriptions in many countries often do not in Spain, making it easier to obtain over-the-counter treatments. However, it’s important to note the costs may be higher without a prescription.

The Role of Language and Translation

While Spanish is the official language, in major cities and tourist locations, many health professionals speak English, making communication easier. There are also translation services available at many hospitals and clinics in popular tourist areas.

Healthcare Facilities in Tourist Areas

Spain has reputed healthcare facilities across the country. In tourist hotspots such as Madrid, Barcelona, and the Costa del Sol, there are numerous state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics, both private and public. They are well accustomed to treating tourists and often have multilingual staff to assist.

Preventive Measures and Health Recommendations for Travelers

While Spain has high healthcare standards, visitors are recommended to get travel insurance covering medical expenses. Travelers should have EHIC if they are from an EU country. Routine vaccines like MMR, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Varicella, Polio, and your yearly flu shot should be up to date.


In conclusion, should one require medical help while traveling in Spain, they can rest assured knowing it operates an extensive healthcare system. With its combination of public and private facilities, emergency services, pharmacies, and specialist providers, the Spain healthcare system is undoubtedly well-equipped to cater to locals and tourists alike.

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