5 Jun, 2012 @ 09:30
1 min read

British expat forced to wait for hip op in Spain

EXCLUSIVE by Eloise Horsfield

A BRITISH pensioner who inadvertently signed away his right to a hip replacement within 180 days is warning other expats not to make the same mistake.

Brian Flude, 68, was told in January 2011 he needed the operation for his ‘bone on bone’ left hip, and in June was put on the waiting list at Malaga’s Virgen de la Victoria Hospital.

Under Junta law, decree 209/2001 states that if patients are waiting over 180 days for this type of surgery they can arrange for private treatment, which will later be reimbursed.

After waiting almost a year, the former consultant engineer enquired about his right to claim under the decree.

But to his surprise, he was presented with a document from June 2011 bearing his signature, stating he had ‘refused’ a centre offered to him – and therefore lost his right to claim.

“I hardly recognised the document, but when I thought back I remembered signing it,” said Flude, who lives in Pizarra.

“At the time I thought they were giving me a choice of centre for my operation. I chose Virgen de la Victoria because it’s near my home.

“I didn’t realise that I was opting out of the right to be seen within 180 days. There is no way I’d have signed if I’d known.”

He continued: “My interpreter hadn’t turned up that day and my wife, who speaks better Spanish than me, was away. But I’m very angry and can’t help thinking it is a little underhand.

“I think even a Spaniard would have the same problem. It was all very confusing,” he added.

“If only I’d had the gumption to ask what I was signing. I would advise other expats never to go anywhere without an interpreter they can trust.

“My whole quality of life is miserable,” added Flude, who moved to Spain from Hampshire 10 years ago.

“I am taking above the recommended level of daily painkillers – which are now affecting my stomach.”

A hospital spokesman confirmed: “Mr Flude rejected the hospital offered to him therefore the degree does not apply.”

James Bryce

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  1. 10 years living in Spain, wants to use the facilities, but has not learned enough Spanish to read such an important document.
    With very little effort everyone can learn enough Spanish to get by.
    If you are not sure ,don’t sign anything without getting it translated.
    Learning Spanish is essential if you wish to integrate in Spain.

  2. It wasn’t that I am unable to read Spanish after 10 years, for a dyslexic I do very well. It was the system that I didn’t understand.
    On the paperwork I received the day I was put on the waiting list it says that the surgical procedure is included in the decree 209/2001 and as such I was guaranteed surgery I did not know then what the significance of this was and just put my trust in the health service.
    On that day the lady at the desk confirmed my name, asked for my telephone number which I gave to her in Spanish and she read it back to me. She then asked “hospital?” and read a list of hospitals from which I chose Clinico it being the closest to where I live.
    At the bottom of one of the pages, under observations, it says “observaciones administrativo” and the words “rechaza concertados”. I had never come across those words in 10 years of reading Spanish but it would not have helped since when I looked it up I found it meant “system rejected”???
    It wasn’t until I started to chase the hospital in earnest that I did discover the significance of decree 209/2001 when I was told that by choosing a hospital I negated my rights under that decree. Until then no-one had ever said, nor was it written, that by choosing a hospital I negated my rights. This is all in direct conflict with the Rights and Obligations of citizens (available in many different languages) which says citizens have a right to choose hospitals and to be operated on within the term established in ruling legislation.
    Originally I contacted the Olive Press for help after they seemed to have been successful helping Ian with his knee. It was after I had commenced dialogue with Eloise that the issue of the decree came up and then I felt others should be warned not to fall into the same trap as me. My story actually changed direction a bit as it was being written!
    Since then I am pleased to say I have had my hip replaced at Clinico and all has gone very well. I cannot fault the care I received while I was there and best of all I don’t spend every minute of the day and night in agony. It’s wonderful!

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