In general the Spanish public health service is excellent, but it does vary around the country as each of the Autonomous Regions is charged with managing its own within a set of national standards – but local budgets! Large cities have colossal regional hospitals with all the specialities but even small towns have hospitals – the key is whether the town is capital of its comarca, which is the penultimate level of local government before a town hall (ajuntamiento). Simple fractures and minor burns, etc. are normally treated at these hospital, so the travelling biker will end up there after a smash.

If one of your party winds up being hospitalised there are a few generalities to bear in mind for in-patients – and those left wondering what to do for the rest of their trip:

The hospital ward:
  • in tourist areas hospitals have personnel to translate for patients and all hospitals should provide this – on the ground this will vary in quality though
  • most hospital wards are composed of suites of two bedded rooms, each with its own en-suite. The wards – not the rooms! – are unisex
  • visiting times are open but limited to two persons only – in theory!
  • rooms have two folding easy chairs for visitors to sleep in if necessary – one chair per patient – but you might have to assert yourself for yours!
The nurse:
  • although hospitals provide meals – and pretty bl****y awful they are too! – ‘nursing’ in Spain doesn’t include non-clinical care, like feeding the patient! So life as a lone patient in traction can be quite difficult!
  • the word for pain-killers, which are usually given at the patient’s request, is calmante. So when the nurse offers you ¿Calmante? don’t refuse it thinking it’s Valium!
  • the word is impactada – ‘costipada‘ means to have a bunged up nose!
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