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Hospital services in Spain

Doctors in operating theatre
The Spanish National Health System has an extensive network of public and private health centres and hospitals throughout the country.  There are 17 autonomous communities within Spain, including the North African regions, the Canary Islands and the Balearics and within each state free or low cost health care is given to those who contribute to the Spanish Seguridad Social (social security).
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 and Accident and Emergency services are available at hospitals and some health centres. 
Because the country is divided into different regions the availability of services does tend to vary so you may need to travel to a different area for treatment if the facilities are not available locally.  There is more information on the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo website (the Ministry of Health). 
There are waiting lists for operations in the Spanish health services, but they are not as long as in the UK and this is because many Spaniards opt to take out private healthcare and just use the national health system for emergencies.  Many doctors and nurses speak English, particularly in tourist areas, and there are usually interpreters.  In the health centres, hospitals and clinics the Spanish nurses tend to deal more with medical issues, rather than serving food and dealing with bed pans which is more often the case in UK hospitals.
If you are treated in a state medical centre or out-patient clinic you will probably be referred to a state hospital for treatment, so if you have private health insurance make sure you carry details of this with you at all times.
The state medical centre in Spain is called a 'centro de salud', an out-patient clinic is called an 'ambulatorio', 'hospital estatal' is a state hospital, and 'hospital privado' is a private hospital.  A hospital doctor is known as an 'interno' (medicina).

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