By Ryan Harrison
MAJORCA-based doctors have run to the defence of the British National Health Service (NHS) after another damning report about the state of UK hospitals.

An investigation published yesterday claimed to expose the “filth and squalor infesting Britain's hospitals”, however doctors in Palma yesterday praised the NHS and said that Spain has a lot to learn from Britain. Although with the cost of living and in some cases half the salary to their British counterparts, doctors in Majorca are often working miracles to stay on top. Dr. James Harris, a British GP at a surgery in Magalluf, said that one aspect of the British NHS that is commendable is the continuity of care. “Whereas in Spain doctors are more specialised, so have to stick to their narrow field of expertise. In the UK they are more general, so in practice you deal with the same doctor during your time in hospital.” “In Spain you have several different doctors and it's sometimes confusing as to which doctor's in charge,” he said yesterday. The resources in the UK have often been attacked, but Dr. Harris said the resources are there but they are spread out more thinly than other systems in Europe. Dr. Jorges Munoz, who has worked in a hospital in Manchester for six years and is the Head Consultant Paediatrician in Palma's Clinica Feminia, said that the Spanish could learn a lot from the system in the UK. He said: “The training in Britain is a lot better, and the pay consultants receive for their work is much more.” “On average a consultant paediatrician on the Spanish NHS will get 2'500 Euros a month, whereas in the UK they would get double this and work less hours,” he added. Dr. Sainz, a doctor at Palma's Son Dureta hospital, said: “In Spain there are more than enough resources, but the doctors are paid less as a result.” On the Spanish NHS there are more doctors for the number of patients than in the UK, as historically the Spanish have always taken out private health care, therefore freeing up the doctors in the public sector. Dr. Harris said: “A big difference between the two systems is that the Spanish NHS is much younger, so there is still this trend of private health care.” “Because it's older more people in Britain abuse their system. Consultations and night calls have doubled, and a lot of the time these services are not vital, but because they're there people feel they have to use them.” “In 20 years the Spanish NHS will be as stretched as the UK system,” he added. Dr. Harris praised the high level of nursing and social care within hospitals in Britain, and said that in Spain more help is expected from a patient's family.

His comments follow a recent damning investigation into the state of the British NHS made by the Daily Express newspaper, which concluded that patients cannot even expect the most basic standard of cleanliness on their wards. Dr. Munoz said: “During my time in Manchester, the main complaint from patients was the condition of the buildings themselves. This is where money needs to be invested.” Dr. Harris said that when compared to the UK, people are more scared of coming to Spain for treatment, at least in Britain you know what to expect.” Better the devil you know,” he added.
Although it is claimed that staff in Majorca get paid less than their British counterparts, it is clear that they mantain a high standard of care.
Recent publicity surrounding a two month premature baby's miraculous recovery at Palma's Son Dureta hospital has highlighted that even with less pay and a soaring interest rate, Majorcan doctors are staying on top.

One problem with health care for Britons when they go abroad is that they sometimes forget to bring an E111 form, which was vital for the father of the premature baby saved in Son Dureta.

He said: “Without the E111 we wouldn't have had our hotel, flights or treatment paid for.”


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