My wife and I are active seniors looking to move from Southern France to Portugal, and although we're in fit physical condition at the moment, our health is always a concern. Can anybody comment on the standard of healthcare in Portugal. As British citizens can we access some sort of nationalized care, and is it satisfactory?
If you're a British citizen you can use your EEC card to register with the national healthcare system in Portugal. There's no charge for this, hospital treatment and visits to the general practicitoner are covered. That said, if using the public system it can take a long time to get an appointment with a doctor, and even then, on the day of the appointment you can wait a bit. This will vary depending on where in Portugal you are though. The standard of healthcare in Portugal is good. The doctors usually speak English and tend to focus on prevention as well as treatment - certainly a refreshing perspective.
If you don't want to risk waiting, there's always private care available, but this can get pricey.
They certainly won't, don't at our local centre de Suade.
The standard response seems to be wait five weeks for an appointment, expect to wait when you arrive for the appointmen - I had a 2 1/2 hour wait one time - only to see a doctor who could not speak English and told me to come back another day.
We have medical insurance and many of the private hospitals run their own schemes. Cartão da Vida (I think it's called).
We use the private hospital as well for our GP. The doctors are German, Dutch etc. Excellent. We went to the NHS hopital this year, and although the cardiac section was excellent, I looked through the double doors into antoher ward and there were about 20 beds with patients lined up in the corridors.
The nursing staff we encountered during my husband's stay in hospital was excellent and very caring. However, future staff shortages due to cuts may diminish this care in an attempt to cut costs. There is no money in Portugal, so it will only get worse.
Even the Portuguese doctors we see, say Portugal is a poor country and it will only get worse. So straight from the horses mouth. Friends who let their medical insurance slip now seriously regret their decision as they are waiting months and months for an appointment to see a specialist who may or may not speak English. Now in ill-health they were pennywise and pound foolish. According to the World Health organisation France ranks number one as far as healthcare is concerned and Portugal I think 12th. I'd really budget for private healthcare. Hope this helps!
By the way, for a glimpse into expat life in Portugal, have a look at my blog Piglet in Portugal!