For many on the island, this important question will at some stage, need to be addressed. If we get sick, where should we go for treatment?
The answer depends on several factors, plus a basic knowledge of what is available on the island. Friends and other longer term expats can always give opinions and recommendations, and their advice is usually accurate. If in doubt, shop and ask around.
For those who live and holiday here, having access to some of the best quality medical care in the country is often taken for granted. Whilst none of us want to get sick, it is a pleasant surprise when Phuket’s healthcare services are used, as they are usually efficient, effective and often of a very high standard.
Essentially there are three public hospitals, three private hospitals, plus 110 clinics and over 200 private practices – a vast choice. If you do the math, you will find that the ‘doctor to population’ ratio is well above the Thailand average. Add this to the number of hospital beds, availability of nurses and other support services, and you will see that the island’s facilities are excellent.
Vachira Phuket Hospital, Patong Hospital and Thalang Hospital are all operated by the Thai Ministry of Public Health. As public facilities, they are usually busy and waiting times for non-emergency cases can be long and the wards overcrowded. Some patients may end up sleeping in the corridors. Clients are usually Thai, however foreign patients do use their services, particularly those who do not have any insurance, or cannot afford private care. Vachira Hospital, the largest hospital on the island with over 500 beds is located in Phuket Town. Many specialists work from Vachira Hospital and also consult at other public and private hospitals around the island. That’s why you may see the same specialist treating patients in both the public hospitals and private hospitals, or from their own clinics. Vachira Hospital also participates as a Social Security Fund hospital. This scheme is funded by deductions from employees’ wages. Foreigners are eligible.
Patong Hospital is located opposite the police station in Patong, with a busy emergency department. There is a high incidence of accident cases in the Patong area. The hospital does have limited services after hours, but at some times there may be no doctors available. Thalang Hospital, a 60-bed facility, is much smaller and generally treats less serious cases from the northern part of the island. More severe cases would be referred to Vachira Hospital. All of the public hospitals will charge foreigners for healthcare services, and whilst they are cheaper than the private hospital, they are not free.
There are three private hospitals, which generally cater to the vast majority of foreigners:
Mission Hospital is a not-for-profit hospital and is part of the worldwide Seventh-Day-Adventist church group. Some say it is the cheapest of the private hospitals. It is located on Thepkrasattri Road, near the Rajabhat Institute. It is the only other hospital on the island besides Vachira, which will accept Social Security Fund patients.
Phuket International Hospital, sometimes referred to as PIH or Siriroj Hospital, is on the bypass road between Central Festival and Tesco. It has recently completed major renovations, opening its new out-patient and room development, in September 2007. This is a medium-sized acute care hospital which has all of the required diagnostic and support facilities, and is a very popular choice for foreigners.
Bangkok Hospital Phuket is also a popular choice, and is part of the Bangkok Hospital Group which operates hospitals throughout Thailand. Located in Phuket Town, just down the road from Vachira Hospital, it has recently upgraded its facilities and opened a new out-patients’ building. It is considered the most expensive of the three private hospitals.
For simple ailments, you can choose to use one of the many clinics around Phuket, but you should be aware that these clinics may not have the full array of diagnostic equipment and laboratory services that are available to the larger hospitals. They also often have limited opening hours as the doctors may also work in the larger hospitals, during the day. Emergency cases, are not well handled at the clinics, and should be referred to one of the major private hospitals, or Vachira.
All healthcare facilities in Thailand are required by law to make a copy of your medical record available to you upon request, although some will charge you for doing so, especially if it is detailed and contains lots of information. By law, the healthcare facility must keep the original record for at least five years, so if you do change facilities, you can take your medical history with you.
Peter Davison, Manager International Services, Phuket International Hospital
Posted under Uncategorized
This post was written by HKT Homes on May 10, 2010