British expats who have not registered as Spanish residents now face a bureaucratic maze in order to obtain access to state-funded healthcare. Sue Wilson, chair of the campaign organisation Bremain in Spain has warned that UK pensioners have been hit with hefty medical fees as they await sign-off on their paperwork, known as an S1 form, which would grant them access to the Spanish national health system.
Ms Wilson told Express.co.uk: “Some people are paying for medical care that perhaps they wouldn’t need to had they got their residencia sorted out sooner.
“It is not just the cost of the healthcare it’s the drugs as well so you know if you take a lot of medicines then that can get pricey.
“It can be annoying to some degree when we have been telling people for soo long the importance of getting all their paperwork sorted.
“Especially with Brexit.”
British nationals who arrived in Spain before the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1 are fully entitled to of their residency rights under the EU withdrawal agreement.
However, all residents in Spain must register to access healthcare.
Expats looking to obtain Spanish residency now face long waits to have their application processes.
Ms Wilson said: “That now through no fault of their own, they are trying but the system is failing to keep up with the demand.”
However, the activist who campaigns for the rights of British migrants living in Spain was able to reassure pensioners the backlog should not see them miss out on a coronavirus vaccination.
Recent reports in UK nationals had pointed to cases where British residents in Spain had found that they were missing from official vaccine lists after registering for private healthcare.
But Ms Wilson told Express.co.uk: “It should not affect the vaccine rollout because even if you’re registered for private healthcare you can still register on a temporary basis with your local medical centre.
“So it shouldn’t affect the vaccine.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The rights of UK nationals to continue living, working and studying in their EU Member State are protected by law.
“Anyone legally resident before 1 January 2021 can stay but should register their residence.
“The UK Government has been running a public information campaign across Europe to inform UK nationals about the actions they may need to take to secure their rights and access to services.
“This includes outreach events, adverts on social media and in newspapers, and support through our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates.”