What to do in an emergency


With your bags packed, your travel insurance in place and your EHIC card in your wallet, you’re all ready to head off to Europe.

If the worst were to happen though, and you became unwell while in Europe, would you know what to do? There are a few options open to you.

In an emergency

In Europe, dial 112 instead of 999. It’s a free call, whether you’re using your UK mobile or a landline. Speak to the operator, and if it’s a hospital you need, get yourself to one. Remember that your EHIC covers you for state provided emergency healthcare, not private hospital care. Any out of pocket expenses can be claimed back from your travel insurance, so make sure you get a bill for any treatment.

Chemists and pharmacies

Many mainland Europeans see a chemist as their first port of call when they’re unwell, rather than a GP. A lot of chemists are open 24 hours a day to respond to this, especially in big cities. Aches, pains, upset stomachs, and rashes are common problems for pharmacists to deal with, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help.


These are a lot like our GP surgeries. If you need more complex treatment than a chemist can offer, you’ll probably get pointed in the direction of the nearest clinic. They can perform tests, prescribe medication, or even just offer advice on more complex issues. Expect there to be a bill for the clinic’s services – get a copy of it before you leave.

Visiting a doctor

Should you find yourself unable to make it to a pharmacist or clinic, and you don’t feel your condition is serious enough for a hospital visit, you can ask for a doctor to visit you. If you’re in a hotel, the receptionist should be able to call a doctor for you. If not, the pharmacist should be able to recommend one. This is definitely one of the most expensive ways of receiving treatment though, so prepare for a large bill at the end of the visit.

Whatever your plans in Europe are, we hope that the only adventures you have are the ones which you’ve planned!

Photo: Green Cross - Pharmacy - Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence by ell brown licensed under Creative commons 2