I have posted about this before but just want to remind expat residents in Tenerife that there is a way to book your social security Tenerife doctor’s appointment’s online. Called Cita Previa it requires only that you have your social security on hand when you visit so that you might complete the required ID field.
For many people who are not confident Spanish speakers, this useful service does away with the stress of trying to make an appointment using the usual 012 number. One pointer though, if you use the Cita Previa webpage, make a printout to take with you.
You’ll find the page here: Cita Previa
Sticking with medical issues in Tenerife, Pam recently made her feelings known concerning the ‘improvements’ brought about by the introduction of electronic prescriptions. She starts with:
So, you are sitting in the doctors waiting room ( probably for at least 30-40 minutes past your appointment time), looking for something to occupy your mind with.
Your eyes fall on the notice pinned to the doctor’s door that informs you about the changes they have made to the electronic prescription – good idea! you think, they seem to be getting to grips with automation here… but what the “improvement” notice doesn’t tell you are the problems this change will give you when you go to the chemist to get your monthly prescription dispensed…
Ouchies! With one member of a currently visiting branch of the family suffering from ’sun scream’ it seems appropriate to pass on some advice I received recently from a dermatologist. Though I am not pale-skinned, my skin is fairer than the typical Spanish/Latino skin types you will see here. The dermatologist was very firm that loose long sleeved cotton shirts and light trousers, large brimmed floppy hats and high factor suncream were essential for lighter skinned expats living in Tenerife.
Just in case you are not convinced here are some scary facts:
- Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world.
- Suffering just one blistering sunburn in your life will increase your chances of developing skin cancer by 60%
- 80% of your lifetime sun damage is received by the time you are 18 years old.
These and more are discussed at The Skin Cancer Foundation
And here are a couple more sites specifically aimed at getting kids to cover up in the sun.
Sunwise – teaching kids to take care in the sun.
Protect Your Skin – Tanning Advice
Quick tip: If your shadow is longer than you are then you are safe in the sun. If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun can burn your skin.
That section of Mahon which deals with blood tests and samples opens at 7.30 am. It has to open early because all the people there who are waiting for a blood test have had nothing to eat and tempers are running high.
I got there at about 7.20 and was delighted with all the polite smiles and nods. One man helpfully pointed out who was last (and therefore who I would be after) and everyone nodded and smiled at me again. Little did I know that this show of civility was but a thin veneer and as soon as the door opened any thought of an orderly queue forming was out the window as the mob stampeded through it in a mad rammy to get the first ticket.
Swept along in the crowd I did not do badly and settled down with yesterday’s crossword to wait my turn. When my number was called I went to the desk where I received a clutch of test tubes and was prodded down the corridor to wait in another queue. The pressure was obviously on down this hall as polite smiles had given way to stony-faced attention on the lab doors.
The test-tube nurse was cracking through her job while the blood-taking nurses were backing up quite a bit. More people began to fill the little corridor and those inside the blood-letting chamber seemed not to want to leave. We all glanced at each other nervously when one woman let out a chilling groan. Dear God! What were they doing to her?
The man beside me started to sweat and I was reminded of an old friend, Jeff who fainted at the birth of his son. Jeff didn’t go bottoms up at the good bit though, oh no, he hit the deck when he saw the nurse inject his wife with a mild sedative. He was papped out of the delivery room and spent the rest of Anne’s labour in a spare bed down the hall.
At last there was some movement at the door and a couple exited. A dapper little chap in a crisp white shirt was out his seat and through that door like a bullet out a gun. He certainly came right out of left field as he’d been so quiet and relaxed no-one was prepared for him to make his bid for the blood room. The man next to me let out a great sigh and shook his head. He obviously felt he should have been next but fear had welded his bottom to the chair.
By now the hall was getting quite claustrophobic but through the wall of bodies barreled an enormous woman who breenged into the blood room demanding she be seen to next. As one woman up the corridor rose to her feet to protest, an elderly man shooed her back to her seat and took the arrogant queue-jumper to task himself. Just at that point there was a loud crash and through the door to blood room number 2, I could see a pair of finely turned ankles as my dapper little man from before keeled over like a felled oak. One male nurse grabbed his ankles and another his shoulders and they humphed him past the door and out of sight but not before I noticed the poor lad’s skin. He’d gone a startling primrose yellow which might be a pretty colour for the front room but is not such a good look on your face.
By now the queue jumper was bellowing back at the elderly man, “Diabetico!”. She was obviously laying it on thick about being diabetic and having no breakfast but the crowd were not impressed and the large lady ended up stamping off in a huff.
By now I had completely lost track of who was next but I suspected that if I didn’t go into action soon I’d be pushed past by the growing mob at my back. As the groaner finally exited Door number 1 I leapt to my feet waving my little pink ticket and through into the little cubicle where a pretty nurse sat unruffled by all the drama. She chatted away at me obviously totally unfazed by all the shouting and fainting.
As she stuck the needle in I glanced away and there on the other side was the once dapper, yellow man beginning to come round. I was glad to see his colour was coming back and that he would be alright. Finished with me now, the chatty nurse tapped my wrist and waved me off with a big smile. It’s always nice to see people enjoying their jobs but I suspect she was enjoying the morning’s entertainment and I wonder if it is always quite so lively at the Mahon blood clinic.
If you have to go, get there early – before 7.30. Take a ticket as soon as the doors open and after you are given your test tubes go right up the corridor to the far end. That way you are right in front of the lab doors and queue jumpers can’t get past you.
Tenerife Holiday – Home Remedies
There is nothing worse than going on holiday and falling sick, is there? Medical care in Tenerife is really very good and the hospitals do provide English and German translators (you´ll find a list of hospital numbers on the Quick Tips page) but as every Mum knows, not every ailment requires a visit to the doctor. Here are some home remedies to provide effective relief for minor upsets, accidents and ailments.
Colds and Flu
I have yet to find a supplier of Lem-Sip here in Tenerife. If you’re a sucker for cold-remedy drinks, make your own hot-water drink with fresh lemon juice and honey. Keep tea and coffee to a minimum, but drink plenty of water to replenish lost fluids, and try to eat something light to help rebuild your strength.
If you are all out of paracetamol, try the following tips to break a fever:
Sponge patient with tepid water, briskly wiping each area of the body sponged. This will cool the body while also increasing circulation.
Make up an apple water drink in order to bring down the fever further. Slice three washed but unpeeled apples and simmer them in a little water until they’re soft. Strain the water and add a washed piece of lemon, which will improve the flavour. Serve the drink cold.
High temperatures in children are often caused by colds and infections. Before panicking, use your gut feeling to assess whether your child is her normal self or not. A high temperature when it is combined with floppiness, lack of interest in food or drink, an unusual cry or sensitivity to light are reasons to call the doctor.
Providing the house is warm enough and your baby doesn’t have a cold, add a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to her bath water and let her play in it until the water is almost cold.
If you’ve run out of travel-sickness tablets and are convinced your kids will be sick without them, offer them a peppermint sweet, or persuade them to chew a piece of peeled fresh root ginger before leaving.
Both are old remedies for nausea and in clinical trials, ginger has proved more effective than many over-the-counter drugs.
Try to keep the afflicted pest ..er.. I mean patient.. looking straight out the front windscreen, looking out the side windows will only increase the feelings of nausea.
Cut out solid food, milk, coffee, tea and concentrated fruit juices for 24hours. Make your own rehydration drinks to replace lost fluids. The correct recipe is:
One pint or half litre of boiled water mixed with half a 5ml teaspoon (or two pinches) of salt and four 5ml teaspoons (or one handful) of sugar. You may flavour it with squash. Drink as much as you want. Once the solution is made up (and the same goes for the packet varieties, eg Dioralyte) keep it in the fridge and use within 24hours.
If you’ve bitten too hard on a brazil nut and you are fresh out of painkillers, try one of the following remedies to ease your pain.
Place a whole peeled clove of garlic directly on the aching tooth and keep it there for an hour.
Rub a few grains of cayenne pepper into the gum around the tooth.
If you forget to wash your hands afterwards and get the pepper in your eyes, you’ll forget your toothache altogether.
Chew on some cloves dipped in honey.
Burns and scalds
In your rush to stop the roast potatoes burning or the gravy boiling over, you burn yourself, act quickly.
Hold the affected area under cold running water for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce the temperature, to prevent the formation of blisters and to minimize the amount of damage to the skin.
Take off any clothing that has been soaked with hot liquid – but do not attempt to remove any item that has become stuck to the burn as this will only damage the skin further.
Remove any jewellery that you are wearing on the area you have scalded as the burn may make the injured area swell, particularly if it’s on the hands or fingers. Any jewellery may have to be cut off later.
Use a clean bandage, handkerchief or other non-fluffy material to cover the area you’ve burned. This will ease the pain, prevent infection setting in and stop any more damage occurring.
If your sinuses are blocked, the best way to ease your breathing is to make a steam inhalation. Pour boiling water into a bowl and, for a few minutes, hold your face over the steam with a towel over your head and the bowl to keep the steam concentrated.
Use one of the following in the water: two crushed cloves of garlic or a few menthol crystals.
Heartburn and Indigestion
The rules for preventing heartburn and indigestion – avoiding very rich foods, eating small meals instead of one large one – are almost impossible to stick to when attending any celebrations.
Garlic as an ingredient in your vegetables will help prevent indigestion as it stimulates the body’s digestive enzymes and relieves problems such as gas and heartburn.
If you’re still suffering, make a tea with 1 tbsp cloves to 1pt boiling water (strain before drinking); or mix 1 tbsp each of apple cider vinegar and honey in cold water and drink.
(Incidentally my spouse suffered terribly from heartburn for years until as part of a diet he cut out bread for several weeks. For him, bread was the heartburn culprit.)
Another of life’s lovely surprises that tend to be bestowed on us women and a truly horrible thing to have when on holiday. I remember once in… no, I guess I’ll spare you the gory details. Anyway…
…although over- the- counter remedies exist for cystitis, these are a relatively recent invention, and it’s easy to make your own at home with water and a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda to every pint of water. You should aim to drink several pints every hour from the moment the symptoms start.
Cranberries also ease the discomfort of cystitis so stock up on cranberry juice.
Chemists are usually open from 09.00 to 13.00 and from 16.00 to 20.00 (Monday to Friday) and from 09.00 to 13.00 Saturdays. However outside these hours, a Farmacia de Guardia is on duty in each region of the island, and a list should be displayed prominently in all chemists windows or telephone 922 248 24 24 for your nearest duty chemist.
Chemist shops in Tenerife normally stock the range of items that you would expect to find in the U.K. they also frequently sell – over the counter – several drugs including antibiotics that in Britain would only be available on prescription
Urb. Callao Salvaje
Telephone: 922 78 05 34
Costa del Silencio
Chapparal Shopping Centre
Avda. Principa Espana.
Telephone: 922 70 42 13
Urb. Las Terrazas.
Death of an Expat
Just about the only thing in life that is a dead certainty is that one day, you will die. Tragic as that may be, it will be that much more traumatic for surviving family members if you happen to meet your maker here in Tenerife with no preparation or understanding of what happens in the event of the death of an expatriate in Spain.
The information below was provided by the British Consulate.
Death of a British National in Spain
The death of a relative or friend is always distressing. But if it happens abroad the distress can be made worse by practical problems. Consular Directorate in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our Consulates in Spain are ready to help in any way that they can. You may be uncertain what to do next or who to contact for advice.You should be aware that Spanish procedures differ significantly to those in the United Kingdom.
Except in remote rural areas, Spanish undertakers are modern, well-equipped companies used to working with foreigners. Most have at least one English-speaking staff member.
Following the death of a British national in Spain, their next of kin, or a formally appointed representative, must decide whether to repatriate the deceased to the UK, or carry out a local burial or cremation.
If the deceased was covered by travel insurance, it is important for next of kin to contact the insurance company without delay. If there is no insurance cover, the cost of repatriation or burial will need to be met by the family. Neither the Foreign and Commonwealth Office nor our Consulates in Spain have budgets to meet these costs.
Consular staff in London will pass on to the Consulate in Spain the wishes of the next of kin about disposal of the body, and details of who is taking responsibility for the costs involved. Under a strict interpretation of Spanish law, a deceased person must be buried within 72 hours of death. However, in the case of foreign nationals the authorities will normally allow as much time as necessary, although this should not be longer than a few days. It is important to remember that if the deceased was travelling with a tour operator, they can be a valuable source of assistance and advice.
If the deceased was covered by travel insurance, the insurance company will normally have a standing agreement with an international funeral director in Britain to arrange repatriations. If the deceased is not covered by insurance, next of kin will need to appoint an undertaker in Spain or an international funeral director themselves. Spanish undertakers have links with international undertakers in the UK and they normally work well together to ensure that all necessary requirements are met in Spain and in the UK.
Local undertakers in Spain are equipped to carry out repatriation procedures and will provide the special caskets required for the international carriage of human remains. A local civil registry death certificate, plus the doctor’s death certificate (indicating cause of death), a certificate of embalming, and a certificate giving permission to transfer the remains to the UK is required to ship the body. This will be arranged by the Spanish Undertaker. Local formalities for repatriation normally take 8 to 10 days to complete.
If next of kin choose to proceed with a local burial, they will need to instruct a local funeral director. Please note that in Spain ‘burial’ often means an above ground crypt. Rights to this are normally held for only 5 years, unless specifically purchased in perpetuity.
Cremation is now widely accepted in Spain and, except in rural areas, there are modern, well equipped, crematoria. If next of kin choose local cremation and wish to take the ashes back to the UK themselves, they can do so with minimal bureaucracy. If this is not possible, local undertakers will be able to arrange the necessary paperwork and transportation. There are no restrictions on movement of ashes within the EU.
If the circumstances of the death were not unusual, registration of the death is permitted and the body will be released for repatriation or burial within a few hours. However, if an Examining Magistrate is not satisfied after a preliminary examination of the facts, an autopsy may be required. Further investigations and interviews with witnesses may also be called for before a decision is made as to cause of death.
In cases of sudden or unexpected death, whether by accident or misadventure, or where a person dies unattended, the Examining Magistrate will prepare a report of his findings and the body will be released for burial. The Magistrate’s report will be retained by the Court and may only be released to the legal representative (a local lawyer) of the next of kin. However, if death was caused by a criminal act, the police will be ordered to conduct a full investigation. The State Prosecutor will then decide whether to prosecute. This can delay the release of the body for burial.
Autopsies/Removal of Organs
Autopsies are carried out by court appointed forensic doctors. During an autopsy, organs can be removed for testing, including toxicological studies, at the discretion of the doctor, without consent of next of kin. Next of kin are not informed about the removal of any organs. The deceased’s body can be buried or cremated in Spain or returned to the UK before tests on removed organs are completed. Any organs removed are retained for the duration of the tests, and are then put in storage for at least one month before being destroyed. Organs cannot be removed for any purpose other than testing without prior consent of the deceased (for research) or next of kin (transplants).
Next of kin can seek a court order requiring the eventual return of these organs. If the deceased’s body has been repatriated, next of kin should contact their local coroner in the UK in order to request the return of any organs removed.
When a body is repatriated to England or Wales, a coroner will hold an inquest only if the death was violent or unnatural, or if the death was sudden and the cause unknown. In some countries the cause of death is not given on the death certificate, and coroners do not generally have access to judicial files from other countries. Consequently coroners may order a post-mortem as part of the inquest.
Coroners can request copies of post-mortem and police reports from the Spanish authorities. However, these will only be provided once any judicial proceedings are completed. In some instances this can take many months.
In Scotland, the Scottish Executive is the responsible authority. However, they are not obliged to hold an inquest into cause of death. Coroners in Northern Ireland are also not obliged to hold an inquest into cause of death. However, next of kin can apply for a judicial review if no inquest is held.
Release of Information
Access to information concerning a death, other than post-mortem and police reports, is restricted. The Spanish authorities will not provide this information directly to next of kin, or to third parties including our Consulates. Requests for this information should be made through a legal representative. The release of any information can take many months, and the documents will be in Spanish.
British nationals without the available means to appoint legal representation can apply for legal aid in most European countries. The Legal Services Commission in London (tel: 020 7759 0000) is responsible for legal aid applications overseas. The Legal Services Commission currently forwards applications for legal aid to their counterparts in Spain, where cases will be considered for their eligibility (based on Spain’s criteria).
Consular Death Registration
There is no obligation for the death overseas of a British national to be registered with the British Embassy. However, there are the advantages that a British form of death certificate is then available, and that a record of the death is afterwards held at the General Register Office in the UK. To apply from within the UK, you should contact Nationality and Passports Section of Consular Directorate, Old Admiralty Building, London SW1A 2AF Tel: 020 7008 0186. If you are applying from Spain, you should contact the nearest Consulate.
British Consulate-General, Madrid Tel: +34 91 524 97 00
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London Spain Desk, Consular Directorate Tel: +44 20 7008 0148/0189/0178/0174
The UkinSpain website is a valuable resource for all UK nationals living in Tenerife.