Just briefly, and this is fair warning, I’m going to jump on my hobby horse. It’s one I feel really passionate about.
When looking for medical help in the UK, no one would think to check their practitioner’s qualifications. The UK is well regulated and many professional titles are legally protected from misuse. Here in Spain however it is a different story. There is less legislation and therefore it is much easier for any Tom, Dick or Harry to set themselves up offering medical help by calling themselves a “therapist” without always having all the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and legal support.
This, quite honestly, drives me bonkers! They charge very little money and offer all kinds of solutions, many of them out dated, unhelpful or just plain dangerous! There is a reason why medical practitioners of all kinds spend years at school. The human body is a complicated thing and we are constantly learning more about it. Unless you understand the consequences of the medical practices you are performing how can you help?
Why do I get quite so upset by all this? I have spent a lot of time (Spanish bureaucracy!) and money making sure that my clinic is completely legal for the medical work I want to do there. I spent 4 years doing my physiotherapy degree and since then have spent several weeks each year (and I’ve been practicing for over 30 years!) training, studying and keeping up to date. As my Spanish isn’t fluent, and because Spanish physiotherapy is just so old fashioned, this now involves traveling to the UK regularly to follow up my Continuous Professional Development which I need to do to maintain my UK qualifications. To then be compared to a massage therapist who’s done a 4 week course several years ago and no training since makes my blood boil!
Why should you get upset about it? Well if your therapist isn’t qualified and registered with the authorities here in Spain you have little to no legal protection if they hurt you or otherwise behave badly. So if your, unqualified and unregistered massage therapist burns you using a piece of equipment they aren’t trained to use, you can do very little about it.
So what should you do?
Check their Colegio Number
Medical practitioners of all kinds, including Doctors and physiotherapists and sports therapists, have to belong to a Colegio to be legal to practice. No matter how highly qualified in their own country if they don’t have a Colegio number they are practicing illegally here in Spain.
You can check that your physiotherapist or sports therapist is registered on the Colegio’s website: http://www.colfisio.org/.
Doctors are registered with the Colegio de Medicos and should also have a Colegio number http://www.commalaga.com/.
Ask to see their qualifications
They worked hard to get these. These certificates are often on the wall in their office and most practitioners will happily tell you where they qualified and all about their school. You can always google them and check they are real schools!
Check their home country qualifications
Many of the therapists here in Spain qualified in their home country and this should mean that they are also members of their professional organisation in that country as well. In the UK there is the Health Professions Council where all medical professionals must be registered. Their website, http://www.hpc-uk.org/ offers a search facility where you can check. Most professional organisations have registers of their members so you can always double check their qualifications. However be aware that membership of an organisation based in the UK does not necessarily mean that they are legally allowed to practice in Spain.
We hear scare stories about “rogue builders”, well these rogue therapists can do much, much more damage – a building can be repaired but can you?