Health Care at Your Service

I needed to see a GP but here in Bahrain we don’t have one, just a little plastic card provided by hubby’s employers declaring we are members of a Saudi-based medical insurance scheme. A quick call to a colleague to check on procedure and we headed off to the Bahrain Specialist Hospital (BSH) just a couple of blocks away. Its the low building top centre of the photo.

The splendid wide lobby has a large reception desk to the right and several long UK-NHS style signs listing lots of different departments in various directions (but none of the lines-on-the-floor guides that I’ve seen in some UK hospitals). GP services are part of Accident and Emergency so we headed for Admissions there where one of the identical-suited male clerks asked if we “had a file”. On seeing our shaking our heads, forms were swapped for our cards and passports (Hubby decided to “open a file” here too). Once the paperwork was complete we were directed to the waiting room. Everywhere looked like any NHS building except for the paucity of staff and bustle.

A tiny, smiling nurse showed me through to a cubicle in a side room, took my blood pressure, temperature and heart rate whilst quickly gathering the reason for my visit. The doctor then appeared and examined me, decided a blood sample and throat swabs were needed for testing. Nurse returned and duely took the samples. Then much to our suprise said that the results would be ready in an hour! Definitely not in the UK then… we went off for a coffee.

Now the BSH building was originally built as a hotel but according to local lore the developers had not realised they needed to negotiate for access to the waters edge in order that the hotel could have a private beach. The minor royal who had the rights wanted more than they were prepared to pay so eventually the building became a hospital. Hence this 1980’s hotel-hospital has a huge lobby area leading into a domed atrium at the back. The latter has become an airy semi-circular coffee lounge overlooking the narrow garden that fills the gap between the two wings and the shore. As usual for a hospital the catering was not exciting. Two Fanta Lemon’s, one reheated Pizza and a plastic container of Caesar Salad later, we returned to the waiting room to watch the telly and read the latest issue of Bahrain Confidential.

Eventually the results were back, the tests took longer than the promised hour but I wasn’t complaining. Another chat with the doctor who photographed the rash on my arm with his mobile phone for his records and it was over to the pharmacy to collect a prescription from the cheerful pharmacist across the lobby – no forms to sign, no charges, presumably our Saudi card is paying for all this. Then the short trip home. All in all simple pleasant and so much quicker than a similar trip to the GPs surgery in the UK – no long waits on the phone trying to make an appointment, no return trip a week later to collect the results, no pharmacy charges and the staff were much more relaxed, smiling and happy to help. I’m a great fan of the NHS but there are somethings they could do better.


  1. I have to back track on my recent comment saying the doctors and hospitals are amazing here. Well, I guess I still stand by that comment as I attend the Gulf Diabetes Centre and my doctor is amazing- which is what I expect since I pay so much for his services. However, I had a horrible experience on saturday at the Gulf Dental hospital in Mahooz where I was butchered for 7 mins whilst the dentist attempted to 'clean' my teeth. I protested twice by yelping and he could clearly see I was in pain as i had tears running down my face. My front gums would not stop bleeding and I went home with blood visable coming from my gums. I paid BD45 for that trauma and will not be going back. So I guess what I am trying to say is, I miss my dentist NHS dentist in UK who spends 60mins lovingly cleaning my teeth! Oh and dont go to Gulf Dental hospital!


  2. How horrible… hope you gums are feeling better today. I hate dentists and only visit in an emergency so I'm hoping I don't have to go whilst I'm here, but if I do I'll avoid the Gulf Dental Hospital.

    Take Care



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