Receptionist wanted. must be deaf and dumb

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CHANCES of employment in Spain will be improved if good manners are considered an option rather than a necessity.

I registered at a medical centre but will not identify it. This would let similarly run excuses for such centres undeservedly off the hook. In my view Spain’s health service, at grassroots level at least, is often worse than Third World standards.

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I know; I have used them all. My town has 7,500 inhabitants plus tourists. The medical centre reception employs one harassed staff member who doesn’t even have a tunic.

The hippy nurse manning ‘urgencias’ is shabby; his lifeless hair tied in a ponytail. In worn jeans, trainers and a tatty t-shirt he is likely the worst dressed male in town.

Reception is no place for discretion; your conversation is relayed over a public address system. Others try to push in; she switches off; she is a mute on the keyboard.


The nurse’s treatment room door is open where nurse can clearly be seen attending a patient. Reception reminds one of a Romanian refugee camp. It is milling with patients and there is clear lack of system.

I ask how you know it’s your turn; my companion says; ‘the doctor calls your name.’ They haven’t even a basic name flasher commonplace in Edwardian England.

A dog-eared poster advertises for a volunteer translator. Is this Europe or Africa? I have in fact used several African medical facilities. True to say some were basic but I couldn’t complain at the courtesy and good humour of those treating me.


They were incidentally dealing with the most distressing illnesses known to man. Although I guess over half the practice’s multi-national visitors are English speaking, reception do not speak English at all. Not that it matters; the poor dear is so besieged she can’t or will not even manage a good morning in her own language.

The international language is evident at chemists, bars and hotels but some Spanish medical centres are a no-go area for English speakers; don’t argue in any language. You rarely see a German patient. My German friend, Helmut says his doctor advises avoidance of Spanish healthcare as he can do without putting matters right.

My son, a British doctor, is familiar with my needs. He told me I was being prescribed the wrong drugs.

When questioned a Spanish doctor at one practice shrugged and told me he would change them but only after hospital assessment. I asked when that might be; in six months.

My Latvian doctors, in perfect surroundings and without appointment, diagnosed and cured what Spain couldn’t. At a Costa Blanca medical practice of ten doctors only one was a qualified GP.

There are similar problems at a Torrevieja hospital; others no doubt. My friend was admitted to a state of the art hospital where staff was anything but state of the art. When in an article I described the way she had been treated, my editor, who never before questioned my truthfulness, emailed me: ‘You’re kidding!’ Sadly I was not.

European Standards of healthcare? Don’t flatter yourself, Spain.

What do you think? Email: [email protected]

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