quality medical care, both private and national, is
offered by a wide selection of clinics and
hospitals. The medical standard is in accordance
with the European level.
One of the most modern clinical
complexes is the Hospital Dr. Negrin in
Las Palmas where among many other
specialists Dr. Alfonso Medinar, one of
the leading heart specialists of the
world, is practicing.
The Canary Islands are not known for any
special diseases and the worst you can
get is a hangover from too much
partying. But be aware of the risks from
sunburn, dehydration or insect bites.
The local chemist here sells, what you
in the United Kingdom or other places
would class as, prescription drugs over
You don't need to see a doctor or have a
prescription before you buy many of
If you do buy medicines over the
counter, make sure you read the
information carefully on the packaging.
If you can't find instructions in your
language, have the information
translated and if you're still in any
kind of doubt, consult a medic before
The best advice to give is be careful
and take out a good travel insurance
policy that covers your health whilst
you're here and then you won't really
have to worry too much.
Bring a few essentials with you,
headache pills, something to settle the
stomach, a tube of antiseptic cream and
a couple of plasters.
Remember that many medical staff do not
speak English, even in resort areas.
Find out which medical centre your
representative recommends and note its
telephone number. This should be on
display where you can always see it,
usually next to reception.
All medical centres have someone on call
24 hours a day but again, their services
aren't cheap so that's why a good
insurance policy can be essential before
you travel. Write down the emergency
number and keep it with you at all
The Spanish health & hospital system
works very differently from the UK
system so I'd imagine from others as
well. Getting emergency treatment or an
ambulance from the National Health
System isn't so easy and you should be
using your private insurance anyway.
Before moving to Spain, you should make
sure you apply for the new European
Health Insurance card "Tarjeta Sanitaria
Europea" (EHIC), which replaces the old
Application forms are available either
at the Post Office, or at the
UK Department of Health website.
A EHIC will cover you for emergency
healthcare treatment in Spain. It is
really for tourists, but will ensure
that you do not end up having to pay for
treatment during your first few weeks or
months in Spain.
Various other options are available if
you are planning to retire to Gran
Canaria, if you are unemployed before
you leave the United Kingdom, if you are
a student, or if you are self-employed
and planning to work there for less than
two years. See
Department for Work and Pensions
Private health insurance is widely
available and on the coasts at least
there are many schemes specifically
aimed at British ex-pats. Do read your
policy carefully though as you may find
some things you will need are excluded.
Some policies only cover you for
emergency treatment in the home and/or
an ambulance to the local hospital for
example and you may find that you have
to pay for the hospital treatment after
you have received it.
The local chemists ("Farmacia"),
recognisable by a green cross sign, will
have just about anything you may require
and there is always one open 24 hours in
each area. The location of the 'duty'
chemist is indicated on every chemist’s
The hospitals in the north and the south
of the island offer international
standard. Below you’ll find an overview
of the most important.
By the way: In case of emergency you can
phone 112 and can request medical
assistance, rescue services or police
assistance in any of the towns or cities
on Gran Canaria. Because of a really
good network of hospitals and health
centres, you can be sure to receive all
the medical attention when needed.
If you find yourself in medical
difficulties whilst on holiday and
without the proper holiday insurance,
you can phone the Medical Benefits
Agency in the UK on +44 191 218 7547.