Spain HospitalAccording to a close friend who is a hospital doctor most death certificates, especially those of men, should give the cause of death as ‘procrastination’. Men tend to let sleeping dogs lie; refusing to check themselves out or let the professionals do it for them. As a consequence many die of a condition that could have been nipped in the bud.

For this reason I was drawn to the news that Torrevieja Health Authority has been ‘commended for innovations in management.’ I wonder if they might have a word in the ear of those managing the neighbouring Orihuela Costa health authority.

Another Disease Called Xenophobia

Their medical centres process hundreds of English-speaking non-Spaniards every day and look who is manning the gate at some. Mine is Sr. Xenophobia himself; a hectoring bully scornful of those who have the temerity to approach his desk without full command of the Spanish language.

It cuts no ice that those unfortunate enough to approach him are respectful and no doubt feeling vulnerable. The first rule to avoid unnecessary illness or premature death is to become fluent in the Spanish language; even if only booking a simple appointment. Otherwise take an interpreter with you.

Doubtless there are many non-Spaniards who do not get their health checked, not because of procrastination but because they are intimidated by the xenophobic language-based gauntlet.

Enough to Try the Patients of a Saint

Some visitors will be tourists. They paid for their travel insurance but unfortunately failed to master the Spanish language before herding the kids, humping luggage, pacifying their other half, and boarding the plane. How remiss should one of their brats scuff a knee meriting negotiations with Sr. Xenophobia manning reception at the health centre.

As more enlightened health authorities have shown the cost of hiring bi-lingual staff is a drop in the ocean compared to the savings made not to mention marked improvement in people’s health, and an increase in tourism.

Spain’s Money-Spinner

In Scotland, where translators are provided, health authority officials say: “Money would be saved in the long term if patients were admitted for care in a less advanced state. When diagnosing it is vital to be 100% clear, so even someone with fairly good English might need that little bit of help to make sure it is understood.”

Here in Spain the health service is fabulously wealthy. Each year it receives €3,600 from Britain’s government for the healthcare of retirees whether they access the service or not. On average they make €2, profit from each pensioner.

Perhaps a little can be put aside to employ a non-xenophobic receptionist, even doctors with a reasonable command of the recognised international language of business. If not then stop spending a fortune on attracting investors and tourists who haven’t yet grasped Spanish.