There are notices in all Canarian Health Service establishments (in English, German, French, Arabic and Chinese and Spanish ironically, saying if you do not speak Spanish you must bring a translator with you. However in reality many GPs and specialists will be able to speak English and some particularly at Candelaria hospital are keen to practice English. HOWEVER they are not obliged to do so and whether you get an English speaker is the luck of the draw, if you are unlucky you may be refused a consultation and be sent away. Even if you are lucky enough to get an English speaker to diagnose you, you still have to deal with ancillary and admin staff who seldom do speak English.
In the Hospital del Sur (formerly called “El Mojon”) outpatients and Candeleria Hospital almost all of the “Green Jackets” – help desk staff -have most European languages between them, but except in cases of really DIRE need or emergency there are not enough of them to go around to sit in on individual consultations.
So to sum up, do you need an interpreter to repeat your medication? – Probably not if you organise yourself – learn for example ” repetir medicación por favor” – repeat prescription please – and take empty boxes or previous prescription so there is no confusion with what you want.
If you have a serious condition or need to tell doctor about some new symptoms, unless you are lucky in your doctor (and bear in mind that he/she could be substituted by a locum from time to time) then I would say you do need a translator- but shop around for your interpreter do they have professional liability insurance for example, cheapest is not always best?
If you have an ongoing chronic illness do try to learn at least the Spanish words that affect you – or write down in Spanish what you want to tell doctor before you go to the appointment so you are prepared at least a little.
You can also download an app to help called TRADASSAN although when you are unwell may not be the time to start learning complicated phrases!
Please feel free to call 0034 922 867478 or 0034 647057599 or email for a list of current charges for interpreter services.