considering a move to another country on a permanent basis, or even when
considering the purchase of a second home in which to spend a substantial part
of the year, the availability, reliability, and quality of essential services
is always a key factor.
most important service to be considered is the quality of the local health
service and the fear of what might happen if you become unwell and require
hospitalisation when you are far away from wherever you have always called
I have been
coming to Cortona and the surrounding area for over 15 years and had cause to
attend the A&E department of the local hospital at Fratta/Santa Caterina
when my daughter fell and damaged a wrist several years ago.
I also know
of others who have been treated for a variety of ailments at the same hospital
and by local doctors, and all have spoken of the excellent care which they
So, when I
finally got round to buying a home here last November, I was relaxed about
the WHO rated Italy’s Health Care System as the second best in the world in
2020 and my own experiences suggested that there was little to be concerned
what I had no experience of, and could not have imagined, was how utterly
brilliant that service is in the event of a medical emergency.
In March of
this year, I was admitted to hospital in Glasgow as a matter of urgency by
ambulance. I was in severe pain and once the ambulance arrived (after 3 long
hours) it was quickly established that I was not having a heart attack but
should be taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital because all was far
I was given
morphine for the pain in the ambulance but once at the hospital I had to wait
another 3 hours before being admitted to A&E and once there I was placed on
a drip after a short wait which further eased the pain in my sternum.
in the day I was x rayed, and later still informed that I was being kept in for
observation by one of the doctors. The following day, a surgeon informed me
that the source of my pain was my gallbladder and that within 24 hours I would
receive a scan which would confirm his initial assessment.
The scan did
indeed confirm that diagnosis, and I was released two days later having been
informed that the offending gallbladder would be removed by way of day surgery.
I would receive a letter telling me exactly when this would take place -
sometime over the next 16 weeks though that timescale may slip due to various
pressures on the NHS system.
I would have
to say that the care given to me in Glasgow was excellent and I could not fault
the service at all.
As I was now
pain free, I simply went about my business which included coming to my house in
Italy at the end of June knowing that there was no prospect of the gallbladder
operation taking place before August.
the third week in July my symptoms returned with a vengeance. By 9:00am I knew
I had to get myself to hospital and so my partner drove to the Ospedale at
Fratta/Santa Caterina where I had been many years before with my daughter.
To be frank,
what happened next surprised and shocked me.
Hospital Santa Margherita
minutes of entering the hospital I was placed on a drip which helped my stomach
and eased the pain. Within an hour I had been x rayed and had received an ultrasound
minutes I had had a consultation with the chief surgeon who informed me that
the gallbladder had to come out and that if necessary that procedure could take
place within 48 hours!
happened, we decided to delay the operation until such time as the symptoms and
inflammation that were present had died down, and so the procedure was
performed 4 days later during which time I remained in the hospital, often
having the ward to myself.
The care and
banter of ward staff was fantastic and their laughter and good humour each
morning was natural and endearing.
morning of the operation the theatre staff swung into operation like a
well-oiled machine and the post operative care was both comforting and constant.
initial thoughts had been to go back to Glasgow for any procedure, I am now
delighted that I chose to have the operation performed by my Italian Surgeon.
Ah but what
about the cost I hear you say in these post Brexit times?
Well, if you
are a UK resident and you have an EHIC card which has not expired then this is
If you have
travelled with neither an EHIC card nor a GHIC card, then you can apply for
emergency cover for any urgent procedure or process by way of a Provisional
Replacement Certificate (PRC) and the UK Government will e-mail the doctor or
hospital concerned with confirmation that you are covered by the EHIC or GHIC
schemes. Again, all the relevant information can be found via the link above.
For those of
other nationalities then similar national schemes will apply.
– or Italia Viva you might say.
Hospital Santa Margherita
LOCALITÀ FRATTA 145, 52044 Cortona
Telefono: 0575 6391