Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Doctor, doctor

I know that the NHS, the British healthcare system, is a politically hot topic nowadays and I suspect there have been several changes to it since I left but, for someone who lived in the UK till 2004, the Spanish healthcare system and the British ones are basically similar.

The main difference is that you have to have paid into the Social Security system, or be the dependant of someone who has, if you are to get anything out of the Spanish system. Emergencies are always treated - though I'm not sure whether there might be a corresponding bill afterwards if you haven't contributed. Pensioners from any EU country are covered by the system here but the payment actually comes from the home country.

Dentistry is not included in the Social Security cover and there is a system of charging for prescriptions with various discounts which take account of your age, any disabilities and income but, in general, get sick and paramedics, nurses, doctors and an impressive array of medical hardware will come to your aid.

I've not been a big user of the system. An infection here and an injury there but the last time I spent any time at a doctor was in Cartagena four or five years ago. I have this idea that I can tell when it's something serious and when it isn't so, most times, I just wait for the malady to disappear and, touch wood, up to now there has been nothing serious.

Pinoso, as you know, is a really a village, rather than a town. A few souls short of 8,000. Nonetheless, it has 24 hour emergency medical cover. Our health centre is modern and operates at full swing on weekday mornings and early afternoons and then has a quieter afternoon/evening session. I don't actually know the opening hours but I know the principle well enough.

The last time I went to the doctor was on a Saturday afternoon when there is a just a skeleton, out of hours, staff on call. My stomach had been painful for a long time and the pain didn't seem to be going away and I didn't like it. Finally I was persuaded to go to the doctor in "emergency" hours. The doctor laughed, gave me something akin to imodium and sent me on my way. I felt suitably foolish.

Regular readers will know we have a couple of newish house cats and a visiting street cat  - a big white job. Having tried to scare him away we have now taken to trying to feed him so much that he leaves our two alone. A risky strategy I know. He is grateful for the food though. He goes into a frenzy as the food approaches and chows down in a noisy and very animated way. Tonight as I gave him a handful of the dried food he bit me. Nothing serious, he just mistook me for chicken flavoured biscuits, but he got a clout on his backside in retaliation.

An hour later and my hand was feeling very strange, A sort of pins and needles. I've heard about cat bites. A friend was very close to losing his finger after a bite from the family pet. Once again I rang on the out of hours bell at the health centre. Once again I was treated as a sort of idiotic time waster. They gave me a tetanus jab and told me to go back tomorrow if my hand swells up but basically they were miffed that I'd interrupted whatever it was that they were watching on the telly.

It's excellent that we have the emergency service though. Even if they do laugh at me.

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