Guide to Healthcare in Lanzarote
The Spanish healthcare system is considered one of the best in the world, ranking 6th in the EU for the number of doctors available to patients. There are a multitude of public and private hospitals (hospitales) and health centres (centros de salud) available in Lanzarote. The main public hospital - Hospital General de Lanzarote is situated in Lanzarote’s capital city Arrecife. For those seeking private medical care, there is also Hospital Lanzarote, located in the popular resort of Puerto del Carmen.
In case of an emergency
When travelling to Spain, it is important to know that all British holidaymakers benefit from free healthcare should any threatening illness, accident or emergency occur. This is covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows all EU residents access to public care. Applying for it is easy and free -for more information on how to apply for a EHIC, click here. Also, be advised that holidaymakers are not prioritised, as cases are treated according to their severity. In case of emergency, it is important to remember the Spanish word for A&E or ER is urgencias. The emergency numbers you should make a note of are:
- 112 for ambulance, police or fire department
- (+34) 961 496 199 for emergency dentists
- (+34) 963 600 313 for on duty pharmacy
Lanzarote’s private clinics (centro privado) all function on a 24-hour call service, but like most private care, they can be quite expensive. For that reason, it is highly recommended to take a comprehensive insurance policy before traveling, and check if you are covered in the unpleasant event that you have to attend one during your stay . They also each have their own emergency number, so make sure you know which private health centre is nearest to you.
An advantage of using a private facility is that often a doctor from your own country can provide you with medical treatment.
Hospitals and Health Centres
Most hospitals offer both private and public healthcare services, so make sure the staff knows which service you have chosen. There are three main hospitals on the island of Lanzarote.
Arrecife General or Hospital General de Lanzarote is the one where accident victims are treated at. Although English speaking medical staff and interpreters are available in some public hospitals, it is strongly advised to be accompanied by a translator when going to the hospital, as this will ensure your visit will go as smoothly as possible, without any unnecessary delays. Do not forget to always carry your European Health Insurance Card with you, as you will need it to benefit from emergency treatment.
The telephone number for Arrecife General is 928 812 350.
The British Surgery of Lanzarote is another alternative for receiving help, as they offer 24-hour primary health care, the staff here speaks fluent English and they all have had experience working in the NHS. You will be dealt with by calming, reassuring and efficient staff and you will be able to easily contact any British surgery and liaise with with your GP, helping them give you the best treatment for your condition.
Their freephone number if you require a doctor, general advice or an ambulance is 900 811 555.
Hospiten Lanzarote is a private hospital in Puerto del Carmen, highly recommended by holidaymakers, praised for its excellent facilities and friendly environment. Besides having fluent foreign language speaking staff who will explain to you your treatment needs, help you with insurance papers and prescription requirements, should you necessitate to stay overnight, double rooms are almost always guaranteed to yourself. Family members can stay overnight, they offer free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, private bathroom and toiletry bags. Meals also come with perks, having to choose from 3 different options for both the first and second course.
Hospiten Lanzarote has a helicopter pad for emergency situations in which patients need to be taken to the main hospital in Gran Canaria.
The freephone service (928 596 100) can be used to call doctors for treatment directly in your hotel if needed.
First port of call is the Pharmacies
If you require treatment for mild illnesses, your local chemist (farmacia) can provide health consultations and guidance. You will always find a pharmacy that is open 24 hours (farmacia de guardia), where they sell drugs over the counter. Just look for a shop with a green cross sign outside.
If your require medicine outside working hours and your local pharmacy is closed, they will often have a notice on the window with the details of the nearest 24 hour pharmacy. You can also find list of pharmacies online. Remember that antibiotics can no longer be purchased without a prescription in Spain, and painkillers such as Ibuprofen cannot be purchased in a supermarket. Unless your private health policy covers it, you will have to pay the full cost of the prescriptions or medicine. You will only be required to pay a percentage of the cost if you are working in Spain or if you are a pensioner. This percentage depends on the amount you earn and can range between 10%-60%. You can find out more about this co-payment system, in Spanish, here.
Healthcare as a resident of Lanzarote
If you decided to permanently relocate to Spain, it is important that you register with social security (Dirección General de la Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social or TGSS) to obtain a social security number and a certificate which proves your right to receive medical help. Together with your passport and NIE number (foreigner’s identity number), you must take them to a local health centre, register with a doctor and apply for a health card. They will also arrange for you to get a SIP card (Sistema de Informacion Poblacional). You must have it with you every time you visit a health centre or collect a prescription from a chemist.
You are entitled to free state healthcare if you are a resident in Spain and work in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions, if you are receiving state benefits, if you are a student and under 26 or if you are a state pensioner. Children and pregnant women also benefit from free healthcare.
Doctors at a clinic
In Spain, primary health care is given through a health centre called centro de asistencia primaria (CAP) or a general doctor (médico de cabecera). Before you can see a doctor, you’ll need to register (see above). Going to the ER in Spain doesn’t require you to be registered with a GP, however if you want to get treatment for any other health condition, you will need a referral from your doctor. This also applies when you wish to be consulted by a specialist. If you rather not wait to go through the public system, then private health insurance is your best option, as seeing a specialist is much quicker this way.
Remember you have to take the hospital medical report to a pharmacy if you need medication after being discharged from a hospital, for the prescription to be fulfilled, as hospital doctors do not issue prescriptions. If you only need over the counter drugs for mild illnesses, then you don’t have to be registered with a doctor.
Unlike in the UK, the public healthcare system does not cover dental treatment unless it is an emergency. Your options are to either pay for dental treatment or use private health insurance.
The two main dental clinics in Lanzarote are Clinica Omega (call on 928 810 641), which is both an ophthalmologic and a dental clinic, found in Lanzarote’s capital city Arrecife and The London Dental Clinic (call on 928 834 016) in Tias, which is only 10 minutes away from the popular Puerto del Carmen. Booking an appointment is easy - you can either call them or book online. Both clinics have received many positive reviews from locals and holidaymakers, being praised for high-quality dental care and friendliness of staff. Whether you are in pain with toothache, simply want a checkup or you’re in need of more complex dental work, be assured you’ll be in good hands.