When expat British pensioner Dermot McLaughlin was refused medical assistance at a Spanish health centre he was feeling the full effects of Spain's cash flow crisis. Although a long-term resident and registered for health care, the 70-year old, with a serious heart condition, was turned away at San Luis Health Centre near Torrevieja. As a consequence, an urgent heart examination, for which he has waited four-months, will now be cancelled.


The distressed pensioner, whose condition demands daily medicine, has been told he will have to re-register for healthcare; it is a time-consuming process. At high risk of a stroke and lacking funds to privately purchase medicine needed for his condition, he has asked the Pensions Service (UK) to rush out a E-121, now thought to be an S1 form, so he can repeat a process he satisfactorily completed several years ago.

He says; "I cannot understand it. The Pensions Service in Newcastle has informed me that they are still paying for my healthcare in Spain. I have been registered since 2008 and until now there hasn't been a problem."

His son, a hospital doctor in Bristol, says he is most concerned as he is fully aware of his father's condition and the constant need for medicine to reduce risk to his father's health.

Qualified translator Viviana Houry says it appears Mr McLaughlin will have to re-register. This has to be done through the INSS, Spain's equivalent of the UK Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS): she concedes this is a drawn-out process. ''It is impossible to make an appointment using the telephone number you have been given; I tried all last week without success."

The pensioner says he is concerned for his health of course, but anxious for many others who have retired to Spain. "For five years there hasn't been a problem; why now? I meet all criteria yet I was point-blank denied access to a doctor. If it happened to me it can happen to others."

He adds, "On a personal note I am angry. Every year Spain's healthcare system receives €3,500 for each UK pensioner registered; the average annual cost of their health needs is said to be just €1,200. They deny me access to healthcare that is being paid for, but they have yet to write to Pensions to tell them to stop the cheques. The British government needs to take action to stop this abuse."

Dermot McLaughlin. (Michael Walsh, Journalist)
San Luis, Alicante, Spain
Telephone 0034 662 067 490 Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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