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The healthcare system in Spain

The Spanish National Health System combines both public and private healthcare and everyone who makes social security payments gets free medical treatment.

 Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities (which include the north African regions, Canary Islands and the Balearics), and while historically the healthcare used to be fully controlled by the central government now each region takes individual responsibility - the only jurisdiction the central government has is for overall budget.

Although there are waiting lists for operations on the Spanish NHS they are not long and many people choose private health insurance such as BUPA instead, electing to use the private facilities for blood tests or health check-up’s and rely on the national health system if/when needed for emergency treatment.

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).

The institution in charge of health care control is the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo and any surgeon who comes to Spain to practice from another country must satisfy the Ministry for Education and Science that they are properly qualified. The ministry checks all relevant paperwork including qualification certificates and personal background of all surgeons and doctors, and this is the case for all medical personnel from other countries who want to work in Spain. To practise medicine in Spain doctors must be registered with the relevant Medical Association in their individual province.

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