Even though Thailand is perhaps considered by some people to be a developing country, it does have many excellent quality, modern hospitals, most of which are certainly on a par with or even better than those back home. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand attracting thousands of visitors each year, Phuket has some superior quality hospitals that are used to dealing with foreigners that have all manner of holiday related health problems.
The medical tourism industry in Thailand is burgeoning, and tourists are increasingly coming to Phuket for elective surgery combined with a holiday in the sun, since the private hospitals have low waiting times and it’s normally cheaper than in Europe and elsewhere. Thai private hospitals are rather like decent quality hotels, with good inpatient facilities and comfortable rooms. Many Thai doctors are educated abroad, highly trained and speak excellent English and other European languages.
Holiday Health Issues
You should always be aware that you can easily become sick or have an accident whilst on holiday, and it’s essential to have adequate health insurance to cover even the most unlikely scenarios. As an example, it’s extremely common in Thailand for tourists to have a motorbike accident which can lead to severe injuries that require hospitalization and possibly months of follow up treatment.
For most minor health problems and annoyances such as sunburn, diarrhea, cuts and scrapes, and even sexually transmitted diseases (quite common in Phuket), there are abundant medical clinics and doctors located around the island that can deal with such problems quickly. For any particularly serious issues and accidents, a visit to a local hospital may be needed.
The Patong Hospital inevitably has to deal with high numbers of tourists as that’s where most visitors to the island are concentrated. Most accidents tend to occur at night when many people are inebriated, and end up requiring medical attention. For major illnesses and complicated surgeries, patients may be instead referred to the main professional and well equipped hospitals, such as Bangkok Hospital or the Phuket International Hospital.
Private and Public Hospitals
The private hospitals are rarely used by the majority of Thais due to the relatively high expense; Thai people tend to use the much cheaper government run hospitals. These establishments can also be a cheap and convenient option for tourists, but it’s worth remembering that they may not have nurses experienced with treating foreigners, and it’s also likely they don’t speak as good English as at the private ones.
Without exception, at all the private hospitals tourists have to pay for any medical services received, but it’s usually just a case of showing suitable insurance details or even paying in advance before treatment begins. Importantly, treatment will be refused if you cannot demonstrate that you have adequate funds to cover the expenses, regardless that you are a foreigner. For any serious accident that requires immediate treatment, the medical bills can be substantial and may come as a surprise to those who are not prepared. One word: insurance!
The ambulance services in Phuket are operated by the individual hospitals, and it’s not unusual to be taken to a hospital by private vehicle or a taxi. Transport there can also be arranged by your hotel. Anybody that has witnessed road accidents in Thailand knows that it’s not unusual for the injured to be loaded onto the back of a nearby pickup truck and carted off to hospital, as it’s often just the best way to get there quickly.
Phuket currently has seven hospitals, several are private and the rest public, but whatever your health needs, you’re sure to be covered more than adequately on the island and it’s rarely necessary to require treatment in Bangkok. The main hospitals on the island and their contact details are listed below.
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
Bangkok Hospital is a private hospital chain with branches all over Thailand. They have established excellent reputation for high quality medical care, but the prices also reflect that and they’re certainly not the cheapest. All kinds of treatment and emergency services are covered. The hospital has more than 200 beds and can deal with up to 1000 outpatients a day, and employs around 165 physicians and 250 nurses. Specialist elective surgeries catered for include dentistry, cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, hip and knee replacement, and heart surgery.
Phuket International Hospital
The staff here are well trained to deal with foreigners and the facilities are excellent. It’s widely regarded as one of the best hospitals on the island. All the usual medical specialisms are covered such as cardiology, dentistry, cosmetic surgery, eye operations, and many more. For patients that require it, overnight accommodation costs between 700 and 5000 baht per day. The hospital is located on the main 402 road near Central Festival and Big C. Phuket International is a very good choice for foreign visitors.
Mission Hospital Phuket
Established on the island since 1940, Mission Hospital is operated as a Christian and not-for-profit organisation. Specialist areas include paediatrics, obstetrics, ear nose and throat problems, eye conditions, physical therapy and most types of general surgery. They can also organise health checkups and laboratory tests. Overnight accommodation costs between 600 and 2,100 baht. Treatment is not as expensive here compared with Bangkok and Phuket International hospitals.
This government run public hospital with a 120 bed capacity has been the main medical venue at Patong Beach since 1986, catering both to Thais and foreigners. The emergency facilities are used frequently by tourists involved in accidents, drunken brawls and motorbike accidents around Patong Beach. Besides the emergency capabilities, there are regular outpatient services that cover most common health issues.
Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation Hospital (PPAO)
The most recent addition to Phuket’s hospitals opened in 2011. PPAO is a public hospital but accepts foreigners, with a secondary aim to help relieve pressure on the overly busy government hospitals in Phuket. There will eventually be nearly a 200 bed capacity. Medical costs are fairly inexpensive and the inpatient rooms are between 300 baht and 3500 baht. Kidney dialysis is a particular speciality here, at 2000 baht per treatment.
Where: Sri Sena Road, Phuket Town
Thalang Hospital is a government run facility based in Thalang. They can handle foreigners but most visitors end up using the private hospitals.
Vachira Phuket Hospital
Vachira is the largest public hospital in Phuket with 503 beds and over 70 physicians, and one of the longest established as it opened in 1906. Nevertheless, the facilities are extensive and it can handle just about every medical condition and illness.