Visiting Doctors, Dentists and Opticians

When it comes to dentists and opticians, most people use private facilities, so expats can expect exactly the same experience as in the UK, as well as freedom of choice in terms of finding professionals who speak English.

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If you are registered with a state doctor’s surgery, the process of visiting the doctor is fairly similar to that in the UK. While some expats may have been assigned a family doctor, many surgeries are oversubscribed (again, just like the UK). Where this is the case, you are likely to be given an appointment with whichever GP is available on the day.

The exact procedure may depend on your local surgery (Centro do Saude), but usually you will have to turn up early in the day, and will be given a numbered ticket, in the style of a deli counter or UK passport office.

This means that visiting a doctor will usually involve setting aside rather more time than is necessary in the UK, where many surgeries now give very precise and reliable appointment times.

For this reason, many people, including some who qualify for state cover, instead decide to make use of the private GP surgeries located all over the country. Typically charging around €40 (approx. £32) for an appointment, these offer more flexible appointment times and, in some cases, more of a guarantee of seeing a doctor with the ability to speak English.

Prescriptions work in a similar way to the UK, and will often be heavily subsidised and in some cases significantly cheaper than in the UK.

It is worth mentioning at this point that pharmacies in Portugal can usually give advice on minor ailments and have the ability to sell certain medicines over the counter that would require a prescription in the UK. For example, “reliever” inhalers for asthma can be purchased over the counter for under €3 (approx. £2.40), whereas back in the UK they require a prescription and cost around £8. Most towns will have one pharmacy that is open 24 hours a day, and a rota outlining the dates for each one will be printed in the local papers.

When it comes to dentists and opticians, most people use private facilities, so expats can expect exactly the same experience as in the UK, as well as freedom of choice in terms of finding professionals who speak English.

Speaking subjectively, expats in Portugal tend to find that private dentists are a little cheaper than in the UK. However, those needing glasses or contact lenses will probably find that these products are significantly more expensive. Many expats visit UK opticians when visiting family back home, or make use of online suppliers.

If you are moving to Portugal permanently, it’s wise to visit your UK doctor before you leave. GPs will usually be happy to issue a prescription for several months’ worth of regular medication, giving you the chance to get established with a doctor in Portugal before more is required. UK surgeries will be able to arrange for you to obtain a full copy of your medical records, for which a small charge may be made.


Further reading for Living In Portugal

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Finding work in Portugal

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in Portugal.
Read more...

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Social life in Portugal

The best way to get settled in Portugal is to find out as much as you can about your new community.
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Heathcare

One of the first things you need to do once you arrive in Portugal is find out where your nearest hospital is.
Read more...

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Education in Portugal

Are you emigrating to Portugal with school-age children?
 

Read more...


Need help finding an internationl health insurance provider?
 
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Many expats are put off private health insurance by the cost, however, the flexibility that comes with today’s policies means it’s often more affordable than you might think.

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