Lying in the Gulf of Saint Malo, Guernsey is situated 30 miles off the coast of Normandy. The population is estimated to be 60,000 and the island is approximately 24 square miles. The island of Guernsey also includes Alderney, Sark, Herm and several other islets. While it is not part of the UK, it is a dependency of the British Crown.
The healthcare system in Guernsey is different to that of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. A medical specialist group provides second level care through consultants and there are three primary care groups in the community. There are no junior doctors employed in the system. Patients must pay for visits to primary care doctors as they are in private practice. Therefore, visits to the doctor, dentist, A&E department, as well as other services including chiropody and physiotherapy, are not free of charge. However, upon referral to secondary care provided by a medical specialist group, all in-patient facilities, including pathology and radiology, are free.
A compulsory health insurance, which is payable by those who are employed, helps fund this second level care. Patients can also choose to be treated privately as there is a private wing adjoined to the main hospital.
The health and social services department is charged with looking after the well-being of the people of Guernsey and Alderney. There are approximately 2,100 people employed in the department, which makes it the biggest employer on the island. In 2005, Guernsey’s total health spend was 7.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In 2004, life expectancy was 80.4 years, which was amongst the top 10 countries in the world. Guernsey also has excellent childhood immunisation rates, with 94% of primary immunisations covered at 12 months and 90% of MMR at 24 months. In 2007, there was one case of mumps and no confirmed cases of whooping cough, measles or rubella.
Circulatory diseases, all types of cancer, injuries and suicides have been the major causes of death in the region.
Reciprocal healthcare agreements
Guernsey has reciprocal healthcare agreements with several countries. These entitle the visitor to receive immediate necessary treatment if something does go wrong during their stay. The countries which have agreements with Guernsey are: Australia, Austria, Iceland, the Isle of Man, Jersey, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.
It is important to note that repatriation costs are not covered under reciprocal healthcare agreements. It may be necessary to charter a plane to seek suitable medical treatment off the island. Therefore, it is advisable to ensure that you have some form of international health insurance.
It is also important to note that the European Health Insurance Card is not valid.
The general hospital for the islands is the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. Visitors from countries without the reciprocal agreement will be charged for all services. This includes medical costs, radiology and any pharmaceuticals.
The “Yellow Pages” list all the dentists in the area. If a dentist is needed outside normal working hours, you should telephone the Princess Elizabeth Hospital on: (01 481) 725241.
You can call an emergency ambulance by dialling either 999 or 112. The ambulance will bring you to the A&E department of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. All visitors will be charged for using the ambulance service.
Unless you are from a country with a reciprocal healthcare agreement, you will be charged the full cost of any necessary prescription(s). If you do benefit under the terms of the agreement, you will pay the same prescription charges as a local resident.
All doctor’s surgeries have a pharmacy/chemist on site and there are others located throughout the island.
The following services will incur a charge: GP visits, A&E visits, Ambulance use, dentists (whether in the dentists surgery or the A&E) and physiotherapy requested by the GP.