Phuket has by far the best health care facilities in the north Andaman coast region, so tourists in neighbouring Krabi or Phang Nga in need of health or emergency care may end up in Phuket for treatment.
Phuket has three private hospitals and four government hospitals, all of which provide a reasonable level of care, though it may be difficult to find staff at the government hospitals who speak English or other foreign languages. Tourists in an accident or critical health situation are usually brought to the nearest hospital first for emergency treatment, then transferred to one of the private hospitals, all of which are in the Phuket Town vicinity.
Phuket’s two main private hospitals, Phuket International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket, are both staffed with doctors and coordinators who speak English and other foreign languages. Both hospitals have emergency care and they also do a thriving trade in medical tourism services including cosmetic surgery, Lasik eye surgery and dental procedures, even sex-change surgery. The third private facility, Mission Hospital, is run as a non-profit. It doesn’t have the hotel-style flash or specialist treatments of the other private hospitals but it offers a good standard of care.
Phuket lacks a central ambulance service, thus emergency transfers are arranged with the hospitals directly or through one of the volunteer ambulance outfits such as the Kusoltham Foundation.
Phuket also has hyperbaric chambers affiliated with the hospitals to treat decompression sickness, or “the bends”, a common ailment suffered by divers.
If you’re in an accident or have a serious health problem in Phuket, medical treatment costs can easily spiral into thousands, even millions of baht so ensure that you buy adequate travel insurance before you arrive. There have been reports of non-insured accident victims stuck in a Phuket hospital while their relatives back home make desperate efforts to raise the cash to pay their hospital bills – don’t be one of these people.
Also, if you plan to ride a motorcycle, check that your travel insurance covers motorbike accidents. Many insurance providers exclude this in their coverage.
Aside from the hospitals, Phuket has numerous small medical clinics, as well as dental and optometry clinics galore in every town and shopping centre. There are also many pharmacies in Phuket, both international branded chemists like Watson’s and Boots as well as small locally-run shops. Items such as birth control pills, which in some countries are available only by prescription, may be bought over the counter at Phuket pharmacies.
Bangkok Hospital Phuket 2/1 Hongyok Utis Rd, Phuket Town T: (076) 254421; Hotline 1719 www.phukethospital.com
Phuket International Hospital 44 Chalermprakiat Ror 9 Road (the bypass road near Big C), Phuket Town T: (076) 249400, (076) 210936 Emergency line: (076) 210935 www.phuketinternationalhospital.com
Mission Hospital Phuket 4/1 Thepkrasattri Road, Phuket Town T: (076) 237220-6 www.missionhospitalphuket.com
Patong Hospital 57 Sawatdirak Road, Patong Beach T: (076) 342633-4 Emergency line: (076) 340444
Thalang Government Hospital 358 Thepkrasattri Road, Thalang T: (076) 112134
Vachira Hospital 353 Yaowarat Road, Phuket Town T: (076) 361234; Hotline 1669 www.vachiraphuket.go.th/www/english
Phuket Provincial Hospital 18, 20 Anupatphuketkan Road, Phuket Town T: (076) 358888; Hotline 1131 phuketcityhospital.org/
Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand began on a university exchange programme in Bangkok, then she returned to Phuket on the auspicious date of 9-9-1999 and never left.
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