The private healthcare sector in North Cyprus is one which you should feel comfortable about if you are considering relocating to live here.
Should you ever need treatment for any number of ailments or illnesses, or require emergency treatment such as surgery, then there are excellent and well equipped facilities to deal with pretty much every eventuality.
Expatriates who reside in North Cyprus can of course take out their own health insurance, and this may be advisable. Health insurance is available through many of the insurance companies and agents operating in North Cyprus which can offer a range of policies to suit your requirements, usually through the larger health insurance companies in Turkey. It is also possible to obtain health insurance direct via large international companies such as BUPA for example.
Expatriates should take the time to weigh up the cost of health insurance versus one off payments for any medical issues which may require treatment and/or hospital stays. Prices for treatments at private clinics in North Cyprus are still affordable for most, and are certainly cheaper than those in the UK and the majority of Europe. However, the NHS in the UK for example is still an option for the first 12 months after you move to TRNC, and for those who keep a residential address in Britain, but waiting times may be prohibitive, and therefore treatment in North Cyprus perhaps becomes a more sensible option.
Private clinics are usually located in the major cities and towns, with Lefkoşa, Famagusta and Kyrenia being home to the majority of private clinics and hospitals.
There are plenty of them too, and with many specialists in various fields of healthcare, it’s an impressive sector. The island is also gaining a good reputation abroad for such specialist areas as fertility treatment, eye laser surgery and cosmetic surgery as well as dentistry.
Sometimes facilities at private hospitals and clinics are also used by private practioners. For example, you may find yourself visiting an independent eye clinic, and if further treatment is required – for instance laser surgery – you may attend one of the private hospitals which your eye doctor rents for his surgery requirements. This saves him the cost of importing all the necessary equipment which the private hospital may already have, and all he needs to do is pay them a fee for its usage.
Some private hospitals are able to offer expatriates a membership system, whereby you have the option of choosing from certain levels of yearly membership, which then entitles patients to a reduced rate on treatments and surgeries. One such hospital is the Cyprus Life Hospital in Lefkoşa which runs a membership scheme through the British Residents Society. If you’re a member of the BRS the you’re entitled to join the hospital’s scheme.
Another hospital offering a similar independent membership scheme, with the added bonus of regular free check ups, is the Kyrenia Medical Centre at the Kamiloğlu Hospital in Kyrenia. Prices too are really quite impressive at the time of writing, beginning at around £100 for an annual membership. Affordable even if you are fortunate enough not to require medical treatment throughout the whole year!
There are plenty of other hospitals offering the same service around the island, so it’s worth looking around the area you have relocated to, to see what options are open to you. Of great benefit, most offer a 24 hour emergency service for members, and have a private ambulance to transfer patients should it be required at any time of day or night.
You should also be impressed with the facilities and modern technology used in North Cyprus, as despite the embargoes placed upon it, it seems to do very well in obtaining state of the art equipment and all the mod cons for healthcare! Private hospitals and clinics all have very comfortable rooms, most having shower rooms, TV and even mini bars (non-alcoholic of course!), and they all have plenty of room for visiting relatives and friends. Rooms are also kept extremely well cleaned by a seemingly endless stream of hospital operatives.
All of the hospitals and clinics we have come across are able to deal with a long list of medical areas and ailments, in fact too many to mention all of them here! However, you will find most that deal with surgical situations have radiology departments, intensive care units and outpatient clinics, but can also deal with other areas such as dermatology, dietary and physiotherapy for example. All in all it is very comforting to know and considering that most of the surgeons and doctors within private practices have trained in Turkey and Europe you should be totally at ease with the quality and standards of care in North Cyprus.
There are lots of other healthcare options available too, with alternative medicine starting to make inroads on the island, and the ease with which you can buy prescription medication over the counter at pharmacies, making the choices for healthcare more appealing and certainly less concerning for people looking at relocating to North Cyprus.
North Cyprus operates a fairly modern state run healthcare system. It has 4 general hospitals in Kyrenia, Lefkoşa, Güzelyurt and Famagusta – they are all well-equipped hospitals with modern facilities and equipment, as well as accident and emergency departments. The service and care the hospitals offer is at times a welcome break from the slow and sometimes mediocre healthcare systems in the rest of Europe, and the hospitals on the island are more than capable of dealing with any number of illnesses and emergency situations. You will often find that people’s experiences of treatment are positive and that they are full of praise for the hospital staff’s speed and professionalism.
North Cyprus is at present not a member of the EU, and therefore the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will not be valid at any medical facility here, whether state or private.
If you require emergency treatment in North Cyprus then you will never be refused at a state hospital, often with no cost to yourself. However, this is not an ideal situation for an already under funded healthcare system, but nevertheless this is the way the system works at present.
If you do require a hospital stay however, then you will be charged by the hospital and rates are calculated on a daily basis. It is also worth noting that a patient is basically reliant on visitors and family and/or appointed carers to provide them with general care, such as cleaning and replenishment of clothing as this is not provided by the state hospital system in Northern Cyprus. Nowadays a private company is sub-contracted to perform all non-medical tasks such as cleaning, washing of hospital bedding and also security.
If you are working in North Cyprus and have a valid work permit, you will be paying into the state system by way of social security and pension contributions, thus entitling you to free healthcare by the state. You will be provided with a medical card, requiring re-certifying every 6 months at your local social security office, and this will entitle you to completely free medical care at all state run hospitals. It is also worth noting that a medical card can be used at high street pharmacies to obtain lower prices for certain prescription medicines.
State hospitals also provide services such as blood donation, although the system of supplying and obtaining blood is a sometimes stressful situation. Each state run hospital keeps a supply of blood readily available for emergency purposes; however there is a larger blood bank which holds the main supply at the Lefkoşa hospital. If blood is required for a scheduled operation or for long term treatment then you are required to return the blood via donations from yourself and perhaps your friends and family to balance the amount you took. It is therefore very obvious that hospitals require a constant source of donated blood and rely heavily on donations.
Lefkoşa hospital is also an important centre for Thalassemia sufferers – this is a genetic blood disease prevalent in the Mediterranean – who need to attend for regular blood transfusions.
All in all the state run hospital system is adequate, pretty modern, but at the same time it needs further investment to be able to cope with the natural increase in population. Some would still say that it is more than equivalent to current European standards, and from our own experiences we would tend to agree.