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Healthcare in Portugal: an Expat, Insider Perspective

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At Portugal Realty we know what concerns foreigners who move to Portugal. It is our top priority to help each family make the most of the Portuguese experience, guaranteeing you peace of mind in regards to the implications of such an important decision. We are always happy to share our knowledge, as well as first-person testimonies of families who may have the same concerns. Please read the following experience to find out more about Portuguese public healthcare: 

 

"I was happily going about life in my tenth year of living in Portugal, a beautiful family, a wonderful life, getting fat on gorgeous food and telling everyone who wanted to hear it that moving to Portugal’s Silver Coast was the best decision I ever made. Then, a reoccurrence of a chronic blood disorder that had been in remission for almost 20 years. I was admitted to hospital in Caldas da Rainha for one night and then transferred to Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon. 

When considering moving to Portugal, the reasons are obvious; fantastic weather, quality of life, delicious food, friendly people, safety for you and your family or simply a fresh start. But it is a big move and there is often a list of concerns and questions too and usually somewhere at the top of the list is healthcare. This concern has surely heightened considerably for those affected by Brexit but it is a question that all expats will have on their minds, whether they are looking for property for sale in Lisbon, houses for sale in Silver Coast Portugal or an apartment for sale in Albufeira Algarve. The question is real. ‘Will myself and my loved ones be safe?’ ‘In this foreign country with a different language and culture, will they be well looked after if something were to happen?’

I am in a public hospital as I write these words, I have had children born through the public system, and I am here to tell you yes. You and your loved ones are in good hands. 

Here is why…

 

PORTUGUESE HOSPITALITY

I have experienced it ever since I arrived, from butchers to neighbours, colleagues, random strangers, restaurant owners, taxi drivers and friends; Portuguese hospitality and kindness steals your heart and never gives it back so why expect any different in health care. I have been blown away but not surprised by the warmth, kindness and nurturing spirit of doctors, nurses and helpers here. They have truly gone above and beyond to make sure that I have been calm, comfortable and cared for. Myself and my family have been hugged, kissed and I even got a high five from the priest. There is always a smile, a joke or a kind word to brighten my day and I am truly grateful for how they have treated myself and my family over the month and a half that I have been here. Things take longer than they should sometimes and don’t expect everything to run like clockwork but the simple things, they have perfected; kindness, care, compassion and love. People really care and it is something uniquely Portuguese, uniquely beautiful. 


YOU QUALIFY

Members of the European Union qualify for all the benefits here. In addition, for those who are outside of the European Union, obtaining residency is relatively straight forward and as long as you pay your social security, you too qualify for all of the public healthcare benefits. This is also applicable to all of those affected by Brexit. In the case of a no deal outcome, the Portuguese authorities are recommending that all UK citizens living in Portugal obtain residency. It is then as simple as registering yourself and your family at your local health care centre (Centro Saude) and paying Social Security. You are then on the system and can check into any hospital if something ever happens. For UK citizens you can find more information on our site about all Brexit implications for you and your family. 


FACILITIES & PROFESSIONALISM

Again, I have been very impressed. The hospital I am in is one of Lisbon’s oldest, so the outside could do with a paint job but the facilities are clean, well organised with updated technology systems. Everything is on a central database and any hospital in the country can access my medical history and do what needs to be done in the case of an emergency. The treatment that I have needed to do for my recovery is very complex and requires a specific skill set, which is why I have been transferred here and they have been absolutely top notch. They were well versed on my specific condition, acted quickly when they needed to and once again, were warm, calming and friendly from day one. We eat well and even then the nurses are trying to get us to eat more, linen is clean, beds are comfortable, wards are spacious and well kept. The doctors have been informative, communicative and I am grateful for their work. 


LANGUAGE

Having lived here for some time, I speak Portuguese, but I still wanted to avoid any ‘lost in translation’ moments when communicating with doctors or nurses about medication, treatment or anything important pertaining to my condition. I have not had any problems, the doctors are open to talking in whatever language is convenient to me, as well as the nurses. There is no ego and no chip on the shoulder about speaking English in a Portuguese country and they have been superb. I have come to learn from the nurses that most of their studying material at university is in English. Portugal’s second language is English and unlike their Spanish and French neighbours they enjoy speaking English when they have the chance. Of course, random conversations about food and football in Portuguese are greeted with joy and enthusiasm. 

As an expat, I have been delighted and blessed to call Portugal my home, my last child was born at Caldas da Rainha Hospital on Portugal’s Silver Coast and they were amazing with both my baby boy and my wife. I have been made to feel like I am truly part of this beautiful country from day one. This time was different, I was at rock bottom in a medical sense and can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would not still be here if it had not been for the wonderful nurses, doctors and helpers at this hospital. They did it all with smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts."

 

Portugal Realty™ - Property for sale in Portugal

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