"What do you do when you get sick?"
I remember when I first started living in Phuket in 1987 I remember people always asking me 'what do you do (in a Third World country) when you get sick? My answer was constant - 'Go to hospital'. In those days there was the Government Hospital, Vachira, the first hospital of Phuket but not a fun place to visit back then. There was also the Mission Hospital, established in 1940, that was a better option with English speaking staff and doctors and dentists from a variety of nationalities. Phuket's first private hospital the Phuket Ruampet Hospital, established in 1979 was to close in 2005 partly due to competition form other private hospitals that had opened over the years. There was also the Sirirote Hosital in Krabi Road. I have done them all, mostly for small injuries or minor illnesses, but the thing that I always note is the fact that I can get to see a doctor immediately whereas in England my family are always saying that they had to book an appointment way in advance, maybe getting better before you get to see the doctor! So there is the answer to that question - if I get sick I'd rather be in Phuket! And it's for this reason that people come from all over the World simply for medical treatment making Health Tourism a major part of Phuket's tourist industry.

So what are the choices?
Bangkok Hospital Phuket opened on May 22nd, 1995, and has since been extended. This is the place to go for top notch medical care, they have the largest number of doctors, nurses and staff that provide hotel style service 24 hours a day. You really get looked after here! But service comes at a price and a stay here will cost you. Medication is brand name and again will come at brand name prices. Rooms come with a wide range of prices and a full list can be seen on their website where you can choose from a ward, standard room , VIP room or even a President Suite!. It has, in the past, been know for tourists to stay here when there are a shortage of hotel rooms at Chinese New Year!

My Testimonial:
Within just a few minutes of being submitted to Bangkok Hospital's Emergency Centre I went into shock, with their quick service and plentiful staff, they brought me back to conciousness and sent me for urgent surgery. All I remember of that moment was being surrounded by doctors and nurses all doing different things to different parts of my body. It was just like in the movies. This hospital saved my life for which I am truly grateful. But that's another story....

Health Care in Phuket

Entrance to Bangkok Hospital Phuket
While your waiting why not enjoy some chocolate cake!

Coffee Shop, Bangkok Hospital Phuket
Why not go for some fresh air and cheap Thai food in the restaurant alongside the upper car park.

Cheap eating at Bangkok Hospital Phuket

Bangkok Hospital is located in Sam Gong an area well know for it's restaurants and food shops so if your visiting someone here you won't starve!

In 1982 The Sirirote Hospital in Krabi Road, Phuket Town (see photo above) was established, operating as a 36 bed hospital for 11 years before moving to a new location which was to be known later as The Phuket International Hospital located on Chalermprakiat Ror 9 Road close to Big C Shopping Centre.

Health Care in Phuket, Thailand

Phuket International Hospital offers a cheaper alternative to Bangkok Hospital Phuket but still provides excellent service in equally comfortable surroundings. Medication here is often locally produced or non-brand name and therefore reduces the cost of treatment. Private rooms are available much along the standard of Bangkok Hospital. Single rooms, joint rooms once again a full list can be seen on their website.

Health Care in PhuketHealth Care in Phuket

Health Care in Phuket

Arriving at either of these two hospitals is more like arriving at a hotel. No long queues, often no need to book an appointment in advance. There are more staff and doctors available at these hospitals and some of the doctors may also help out at the government hospital too. You can ask to transfer to the Vachira Hospital if you need to reduce the costs and many people will make a diagnosis at a private hospital and if treatment is too expensive refer to Vachira for surgery or follow up treatment there.

There are other hospitals in Phuket, the Patong Hospital and also the Talang Hospital which are both government hospitals but like the Mission Hospital you may find there is a lack of specialists and you will be referred to Vachira or one of the two private hospitals to be treated.

However if you are on a lower budget then you have to hold your breath and be prepared for the long queues at Vachira. You need to arrive at the break of dawn to get yourself in the queue and expect to wait several hours or even all day to get to see a specialist. The staff also take a lunch break and you may need to do the same!

Health Care in Phuket

Vachira Government Hospital is Phuket's oldest hospital and some of the buildings hide behind the newly built hospital. Photo source unknown.

Improvements have taken place over the years, making the hospital a much more pleasant place to visit. Surrounded by trees with plenty of open spaces it's possible to get away from the hospital atmosphere. Service has also improved recently to keep in line with the private hospitals and the old image of bossy, unfriendly and unhelpful service has thankfully started to disappear. I have had, in the past, some very impolite service so much so that for a long time I refused to go there or take my staff there. However as the new buildings went up the quality of service also improved and in recent dealings I have generally found the staff helpful and friendly.

Health Care in Phuket
This interesting way to recycle toilets made me smile!

For Thai people treatment is free under the recently developed 'Gold Card' that initially charged 30 baht for all treatment until they realised that the amount of paperwork that involved it was better to not charge anything at all. For tourists this hospital offers a much cheaper alternative to the private hospitals, which will transfer patients to the Vachira Government Hospital on request. Single rooms are available but are often fully booked and patients need to reserve a room, first sleeping in a general ward until a private room becomes available. Room quality will vary depending on which part of the hospital you are submitted to. Due to the number of people using this hospital the staff are really insufficient and you cannot expect the service that you will get in the private hospitals, and service can be a bit abrupt at times, so keep calm and keep smiling!

Health Care in Phuket

Health Care in Phuket

For the history of Vachira Hospital and some photos of the old buildings please visit their website. The website also provides some information pages on Health in Phuket.

Once again the hospital is surrounded by food stalls and cheap Thai restaurants as well as having convenience stores and coffee shops within the hospital itself. It is just a short drive from both Phuket Town and Sam Gong where there are even more restaurants. Parking is a bit of a problem here and you may need to park on the street and walk back again. Better still - leave your car at home!

Health Care in Phuket
My favourite place for a cup of hot chocolate and an almond brownie!

Restaurants in Phuket
This curry shop lies right opposite the main entrance to the hospital. A plate of curry over rice starts at around 35 Baht and they also serve local traditional coffee. Tables fill up quickly as there are only four tables if I remember rightly so it's a case of squeezing in or avoiding the main lunch time period. Take away is also available.

The Original Mission Hospital in Dibuk Road (Photo source unknown)