Public and private health care are available to all residents, although you’re less likely to need to wait for private treatment. Private care is, however, expensive and it’s therefore important to be covered by a health insurance plan.
All cities and major towns have at least one modern hospital and usually several others with highly trained staff and state-of-the-art equipment. Poorer sections of the cities have older facilities, which nevertheless offer acceptable services. Hospitals are listed in telephone directories and the yellow pages, and addresses can be found in tourist publications. When choosing a hospital, your best bet is to seek recommendations from colleagues and friends.
There are several different types of hospital, including public and private hospitals and military establishments. Some hospitals in the private sector are luxuriously appointed and could easily pass as five-star hotel accommodation. Their prices are at a similar level.
Most of Saudi Arabia’s private hospitals have an out-patients’ department and an accident and emergency unit, although casualties are likely to be directed towards public hospitals by the emergency services, e.g. in the case of road accidents.
The term ‘clinic’ is used to denote a general practitioner’s surgery.
There’s little overcrowding in hospitals and clinics in Saudi Arabia, where hospitals and major clinics are open 24 hours a day and usually operate on a first come, first served basis. Arabic and English are widely spoken, English being frequently used in private hospitals, where many staff and most patients are foreign. Accommodation in private hospitals is generally in single rooms rather than wards, and parents can stay with their children. Facilities usually include such ‘luxuries’ as a television and radio in every room, a cafeteria, a mosque or prayer room and a library. Costs for accommodation vary considerably, according to whether a hospital is super-luxurious (i.e. with a large mosque and library) or more modest (i.e. with small ones). Treatment costs usually vary according to the standard of accommodation.
Some of the country’s hospitals aren’t only regionally renowned, but internationally recognised for their quality, particularly the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (Tel. 966-1-464 7272) and the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (Tel. 966-1-482 1234). Other hospitals include the Maternity and Children’s Hospital (Tel. 966-2-665 2600) and King Fahad Hospital in Jeddah (Tel. 966-2-665 6436) and the King Fahad National Guard Hospital (Tel. 966-1-252 0088), King Khaled University Hospital (Tel. 966-1-467 0011), Riyadh Royal Armed Forces Hospital (Tel. 966-1-477 7714) and Security Forces Hospital (Tel. 966-1-477 4480) in Riyadh.