Brits and Irish and any other EU national anywhere in Greece are covered by reciprocal health agreements with the Greek government and any need for assistance from Greek public hospitals is provided free of charge. None the less private health cover insurance is recommended by the British and Irish Embassies in Athens. (Download full information on British Government advice in its "Notes on Living in Greece" here.)
Greek Doctors working in the national Greek health care system are renowned for being some of the best in the world and in my experience I would not argue with this, however there is conditional post operative treatment but little system of after care if a stay in public hospital is required. You would need to call on another family member or relative to come in and look after you bringing food, water, toiletries and the like. There are full time "helpers" around the wards than can also be hired for a fee to feed and take care of patients.
If an emergency arises during your stay in hospital then obviously a nurse or doctor will be on call and available, but for the basic daily routine such as feeding yourself, bathing and being kept clean, change of pyjamas etc your nurse would need to be a family member or relative. There are local ward helpers - "freelance staff" who are available for hire by patients who need help and do not have relatives or good friends at hand.
Privacy in Cretan hospitals is not of paramount importance. When a friend had one of 3 blood tests they said they felt like they were auditioning for the part of a blood test patient, as there were about 10 people sat outside the blood testing clinic watching as the needle went in. Despite this they said that the test was the least painful they had ever had and did not leave a big bruise like the Blood Tests experienced at the hands of their local GP in the UK.
At Crete's public hospitals, we have found the level of medical skill and attention to be on a par, if not better than, treatment and care in the UK. The speed with which you are diagnosed can be astounding. Mostly it is an efficient system of having tests, x-rays, bringing in consultants on duty and other necessary back up support and not a case of sitting around in waiting rooms for hours and hours.
The National Center for Emergencies - the state ambulance service is known as EKAB. Telephone 166 from a fixed line telephone.
On the island of Crete the four prefectures have a main hospital each. In Heraklion there are two hospitals. Many senior government doctors also operate their own private practices. Be on your guard not to be drawn into the private health care route when being treated in the public sector. If however you are faced with an operation or major procedure you are 'expected', although not obliged, to show your appreciation for services rendered, and I do not mean just a basket of fruit or bottle of Scotch Whiskey.
There are public poly clinics but knowing where they are located and are they close enough is another matter. Perhaps a private clinic, doctor or hospital is more handy. Wherever you find yourself, as Crete is a large island, do be sure to know where emergency facilities are located in proximity to your residence or place of stay.
For emergencies that do not require hospitalisation the privately run clinics, such as the Cretan Medicare Centre in the Heraklion and Hersonissos area is where you would need to go, but it will cost you. Often private facilities such as the Cretan Medicare Centres will be found in tourist resorts due to their high usage in the summer months by visitors. One example: to have 18 Sea Urchin spikes removed from a heel cost in a simple procedure cost €60!! Private medical Insurance is therefore recommended and is a legal requirement in self employment.
Schools for Foreign Children
Being part of the EU, Greece through state organisations has sponsored Schools for Foreign Children, including the EU, European School Heraklion. A true experience of bringing the kids over in "Making the Leap with Kids".
Public Utilities - Electricity and water. Explanation of billing.
Living in Winter is Different
Crete - you know the weather is good that is why you come to Southern Greece but Crete also has a winter climate and its house heating implications.
Healthcare :: Public and Private
Essential reading, including the private Cretan Medicare Centres.
Retaining language and customs yet making foreigners feel inclusive along with choices in local TV Viewing.
Cost of Living 2016 Update
More important direct feedback from those experiencing settling in Greece or who have been there awhile. In the chatter, they mention the differences in supermarket prices and where to obtain favourite goodies, edibles and household products from "back home". All in all, it is a good barometer of the cost of living when on a fixed monthly income when resident in Greece.
Save Water When Staying on A Greek Island
Water is a scarce resource that dwindles each year. Our helpful page on conservation of water lists a number of invaluable tips, ones that are common sense in reality. These tips show how easy it is to make the water that you use go further without investment or extra effort. The tips go a long way to help keep your garden and plants well watered thus ensuring they are green and healthy in a Mediterranean setting.
Stores and Supermarkets Grocery Shopping
From small village stores, to large supermarket chains, like Carrefour and Lidl, Crete has it all. A Quick guide to what is available.
Citizens Advice Bureaus in Greece (K.E.P.)
Your short cut to the Ministries and who is responsible for what.