Like my Tenerife hill walks, life here can sometimes be confusing and prone to false trails. Clear signposts are the key in both cases and that’s where the British Consulate provides such a valuable service to us relocated Brits living the good life on our sunshine island. The latest road show was held at the Auditorio Infanta Leonor in Los Cristianos and just over 100 people attended, a new guest this time was Tess Wencelblat from the Consulate Healthcare Team In Spain. Tess in on the far left of the top photo, and also below, followed by Clio Flynn representing Adeje Ayuntamiento (council), British Vice Consul Helen Keating, and Consular officers Penny Gomez, and Mary Suarez.
The first part of the meeting dealt with the advantages of being registered on the Padron. Registering as a resident of your municipality (Arona, Adeje etc) helps the councils to assess community needs. It gives you the right to vote in the council elections (coming up May 2015) and the big carrot is the 50 % travel discount between the Canary Islands and to mainland Spain, you even get discounts on theme parks and events. The British Consulate offer practical support and advice in many ways in times of stress, illness, and misfortune. Much of this was covered at the previous meeting and you can revisit that via this link and a list of useful contact points at the end of this article. Rules and guidelines often change so social media can be an invaluable tool, the change in driving licence requirements was barely a month old when this meeting was held so there is a link for that update too.
Many of the audience were older ex pats and visitors of limited, regular visits and very concerned with health issue and some of the grey areas that are constantly bandied about in the local media and in bars with wildly differing degrees of accuracy so it was good to hear from Tess on her specialist area and from the other team members who have many years of practical experience. Registering on the Spanish health system is a wise and easy move to make for those settling in Spain, the process can be started in advance of your move and visitors with special needs like oxygen and dialysis can smooth the way with an S2 Pre plan Card.
The biggest concerns among the audience were the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for visitors included on the UK health system, and possible confusion at the point of treatment, especially in stressful emergencies. Tess and the team covered some key points. The Hospiten hospital in Playa de Las Americas (known as The Green Clinic) is a private facility but they will treat patients on their EHIC, there have been problems when people use their holiday insurance instead. Once accepted, there is a gap of up to a few days to check the insurance covers the treatment needed (insurance companies do like their get outs and people often leave out some medical details to get a cheaper cover) and it is not possible to switch to the EHIC if the insurance does not cover you, by then a large private bill can already have been run up. The EHIC is your best friend, be loud and proud with it as your first choice. The Consulate team are aware that the system has had its critics and on the morning of this road show they had a meeting with the Hospiten management to remind them of their commitment to the EHIC scheme.
Another important point is the Clinica El Mojon up the hill from Los Cristianos is not a hospital and doesn’t have overnight beds, it’s more like the health clinic in the Valdes Centre, a good first point of call if you have a non emergency illness or injury. Many people also voiced concerns over being taken to a private hospital in the case of an emergency. There are many private ambulances for private hospitals, and a restaurant, bar, or hotel may call one of these if there is an emergency. Engrave the number 112 on your mind, phone, and notes, this is the Spanish version of 999 and will access the mainstream services. The British Consolate recently arranged a helpful visit for the British media to the 112 HQ in Santa Cruz, read this link and you will be pleasantly reassured.
There are always some golden nuggets that emerge at these Consulate meetings, the hero this time was the Convenio Especial. This little known star is for people with no UK health cover who have been on the Spanish Padron for a year or more, they can then pay 60 euros a month (under 65) or 157 euros a month (over 65) to access the Spanish healthcare system. Our night ended with a lengthy question and answer session with Consulate Officer Monica ensuring her roving microphone made things loud and clear. Big thanks to the British Consulate team, get pumping these contact details around those who didn’t attend and sign up for updates on social media.
BRITISH CONSULATE www.gov.uk/world/spain
HEALTHCARE IN SPAIN
HM PASSPORT OFFICE
Advice Line 0044 300 222 0000