National health care.
The Spanish state health service establishes that all people, regardless of their nationality, have the right to health care. The National Health Service (NHS) is available for Spanish nationals as well as foreigners, who work in Spain and are registered and contribute to the Spanish social security system. This also applies to foreigners, who have retired from that system, or for those who work or have worked in an EU country or other country with whom Spain has a social security treaty that covers health care.
This national system provides adequate health treatment, but is somewhat overwhelmed, and may not be efficient for emergency purposes. For emergencies the best option is to go to one of the larger social security hospitals that are generally well-equipped. Many people do choose to obtain private medical insurance for alternative private care. There is generally a health centre or ambulatorio, within each neighbourhood, where there is a general practitioner and a paediatrician. To see a physician, you must make an appointment. If a specialist is necessary, the general practitioner must refer you for care.
Private health care.
An alternative to the state health care system is private medical treatment. Through this system you can select any physician you wish. You can also consult with a specialist without a recommendation from a general practitioner. With private health insurance, you generally pay the physician directly and then apply for reimbursement with your insurance company. It is important to compare prices and offerings of these services. Some of them charge an additional fee per consultation, in addition to your monthly or annual payments. It is also important to note whether national and international coverage is provided.
As Britain leaves the EU, it may become more necessary for Britons living in Spain to take out private medical cover.
Medical personnel and hospitals.
Spanish doctors and other medical personnel, in general, are highly competent. State hospitals are free to the public, but the quality of care may be inconsistent. University hospitals are generally the most reliable in cities outside Madrid and Barcelona.