PATIENTS seeking healthcare in regions other than the one they are registered in are being turned away by medical staff.
Visitors to Catalonia who suffer from chronic diseases are being urged by health authorities to bring their medication with them, while Valencia officials have placed restrictions on who can see a specialist.
However, patient advocacy groups have questioned the legality of such action, highlighting the fact that by law, healthcare in Spain is universal, free and should not be denied to anyone.
“We’ve detected cases like this over the past few years but now we are seeing them repeated more often,” said Marciano Sanchez Bayle, spokesman for a patient advocacy association.
“There have been a lot of problems with patients who try to see a doctor but live in a different region.”
Tourists and other visitors to Catalonia, with chronic illnesses, can no longer receive prescription drugs – a step that health officials claim has led to a 25 per cent drop in the number of prescriptions being handed out.
In Valencia, patients must produce a document from their doctor as proof that a prescription is required, with some health centres displaying signs stating that tourists will only be allowed to see a specialist in emergencies.