Health Care

Public health-care system

If you need to see a doctor, Catalonia has a public health-care system that offers universal assistance to city residents and which enjoys a good international reputation.

The primary healthcare centre (CAP, which stands for Centre d'Atenció Primaria) is the first point of call if you wish to access free medical assistance. The most common health problems are dealt with, diagnoses are made and social care provided there.

More serious health issues are dealt with in hospitals, where specialist treatment is administered and surgery carried out.

Barcelona has 53 CAPs, distributed throughout the city's districts. The patients of every CAP are subject to the criteria of proximity to place of residence. When you register with one, you will be assigned a GP or your own family doctor as well as a paediatrician, if you've got children.

Doctors work in rotas, so you will be asked to choose a set timetable that best suits you for visiting your doctor. You will normally be able to see your GP a day or two after you have requested an appointment.

Except in the case of emergencies, you must see your GP first before you can see a specialist doctor. Note that public dental care only covers diagnoses, preventive and therapeutic care (such as extractions in the case of infections or inflammation).

To register with the Catalan healthcare service (CatSalut), you need to be registered with the municipal residents' register (padrón), as they will assign you to the CAP nearest to your home. If you are not working or paying into the Social Security system, you will have to go through a formality to ensure your right to health care is recognised. Consult the related formalities to find out how.

Once you are registered, you will be given an individual healthcare card (TSI, which stands for stand for Targeta sanitària individual), which will give you access to the public healthcare system's centres and services. This card is individual and each member of the family must have their own, irrespective of their age.

If you have not registered with Social Security, you will have to take out private medical insurance that covers you while you are living in Spain.

For further information, visit the following website.

Have a look to the following formalities:

Health emergencies

Emergency medical assistance is provided in CAPs and hospitals. CAPs deal with most emergencies during normal working hours.

Outside of working hours, you can go to an emergency primary healthcare centre, which attends to people 24 hours a day throughout the year. These centres work in collaboration with emergency hospital services and the Medical Emergencies System (SEM).

You can also phone 061 (CatSalut Respon), a service that covers the entire Catalan region 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. We recommend you phone an emergencies centre before you visit it, to make sure there are not too many patients already there. There are some 200 doctors, nursers and specialists working for this helpline, with experience in providing assistance on the phone and in writing. In addition, it also has a translation and interpreting service.



Barcelona has 58 hospitals (12 of which are public and 46 private). Of its private hospitals, 24 are part of the national healthcare system’s Public Use Hospitals Network (XHUP).

Barcelona’s main hospitals are: Hospital Clínic, Hospital del Mar, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and Hospital Universitari de la Vall d’Hebron. Their websites are available in several languages.

These hospitals offer excellent emergency services and elective and non-elective medical treatment. They have some of the best medical professionals in the country as well as the latest in medical technology.


Private medical insurance

Some people opt for private medical insurance. The advantages are immediate access to specialists, a wider range of professionals available and shorter waiting times for visits and treatments.

Mutual insurance companies (insurers) have their own network of hospitals, clinics and laboratories and offer some services that the public system does not cover.

Note that most companies only cover the care offered by the professionals who appear on the lists of their medical directories, although some refund a percentage of the fees charged by professionals who are not on these lists.



If you have a minor health problem, you can go to a pharmacy, where the pharmacists will advise you on the non-prescription medicines you can take.

Bear in mind that there are duty pharmacies that are open throughout the night, on weekends and during public holidays. Some even open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.