Friday, 7 June 2013

Brits get stung for hospital treatment in Spain

The Daily Express covered an article this week which revealed that hard-up hospitals in Spain are stinging British people for health treatment that should be free, it says this is because Spain's crumbling economy is being destroyed by its doomed membership of the Eurozone.

The article continues to say that as a result, sick, injured and frightened British tourists and expats who have the misfortune to need emergency treatment while abroad are being swindled by hospitals that are more concerned about money than medicine.

Apparently the first question you're likely to be asked in a Spanish hospital is not "Where does it hurt?" but "Tienes seguro de viaje?" - do you have travel insurance? Answer “no” and you could be off to another hospital in a taxi - at your own expense of course. Evidence has also shown that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) we're told to take abroad with us means nothing in a Spanish A&E.

This story left most of us at i-interpret4u wondering how many of these medical incidences could have been either avoided or indeed dealt with in a more cost-effective and efficient way (for both the traveller and the insurer) had the British traveller been able to communicate in Spanish at the point of arrival at the hospital – and perhaps even prior to that?  How many operations or treatments actually take place as a result of misunderstandings or through lack of coherent communication?  The numbers of cases are probably in their hundreds.  Indeed how many British citizens get stung with huge personal hospital bills because they don’t understand exactly what treatment they have just agreed to?

It’s worrying enough to become ill or injured while you’re on holiday, but ending up in a foreign hospital hundreds of miles away from home and the safety net of the NHS, is something that we’d all rather avoid.  Add to that the language barrier and you might as well have landed on Mars. 


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