Gibraltar residents lose access to free Spanish healthcare

In a major blow for Gibraltar residents, they have now lost access to free healthcare in Spain and across Europe.

The size of Gibraltar’s population means that it is not always practical for medical specialists to be employed full time, so if needed they are flown in from the UK.

The cost of healthcare locally is expensive and with limited facilities, most locals go to Spain for treatment. All citizens must pay health insurance contributions but care is free at the point of care.

The Spanish government has announced that residents of Gibraltar will no longer receive free healthcare in Spain, as of 1 July 2022.

Spain was the only country of the 27-member states to draft legislation after Brexit that allowed those living on the Rock to continue to receive free healthcare within the country, however, this 18-month decree will not be renewed.

In response, Gibraltar has also announced that Spanish citizens will not be able to receive free treatment should they need it when spending time in the British territory.

Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, recommended that those travelling across the border ensure they have travel insurance that includes medical coverage, “every time they go to Spain, regardless of the length of stay.”

Previously, residents of both Spain and Gibraltar were able to have access to free healthcare on either side of the border. Now, however, costly medical bills will be invoiced in the event of an emergency or accident that requires medical treatment.

European citizens who live in Spain but work in Gibraltar will not be affected by the measure.

The news comes after the ninth round of negotiations over the future relationship between the EU and the UK continues to stall. Discussions were due to continue in June, however, there is still no date on when the latest attempts to ratify an agreement will begin.

Spain decided that after 18 months of frustrating negotiations with the UK government there was little hope of any deal.