What’s the difference between Medispas in Britain and                                                         Medical Spas in Europe?

The difference is like chalk and cheese.

In Britain we don’t understand the medical benefits of Spa treatment.

We have invented the word ‘Medispa‘, to make it sound as though a massage by a beauty therapist with basic training, is as good as one in a European medical spa, where staff have a long, rigorous medical training.  T’ain’t so.

So if you are off skiing, and have a medical problem (particularly due to long term side effects) you will find excellent Medical Spas all over the Alps

  • They will have a respected medical professional in charge
  • Each spa specialises in treating certain conditions – historically minerals in local waters were considered good for certain conditions
  • Generally, they will make use of local spring water, mud or similar allied to solid experience in treating ‘their’ speciality
  • As these are usually part of the countries’ health system, they are supported by their Government and treat large numbers of patients
  • There are private and general centres – both types are excellent but the private ones usually have more staff and thicker towels!
  • When you arrive, you will be given a thorough medical examination, and a treatment plan devised entirely around your needs.  Those in charge are very well qualified medically, and fully up to scratch.  Often offering treatment in advance of what we can get in UK.
  • Most of the staff will have top-notch medical qualifications and generally speak good English. Visitors come from all over Europe, and most will speak basic English.


This is a term coined by British Spas.  Nothing wrong with them, but they shouldn’t use the name ‘medical’, or anything similar.

They will give you a relaxing stay, with – generally – excellent massages and facials, but the staff wafting around in white coats are unlikely to have any medical training.

If you know what you want, go.  All massage is good, if done properly, and a stay should make you feel better.

Visiting a Medical Spas

I was sent off to my first medical spa in Europe by the Chaplain at the Royal Marsden Hospital.  Well respected in medical circles for his knowledge of side effects from cancer, he knew a lot of clever, helpful people, and I found any spa he sent me to looked after me superbly.

But when he died and I needed to find somewhere for treatment, I would Google my condition/problem, choose a Spa near where was my next job abroad, and then contact the local Tourist Board and ask them to find me a good doctor and book me in.

We have to pay, although many medical spas are part of their country’s medical care and lucky nationals will get top notch treatment for free.  However, I found that sometimes showing my EHIC card got me a discount.  Be prepared to pay, but often cost is much less than one would expect.

Treatment in Britain

Now I know what to look for, I happily trot off to British Spas.  As long as I realise the staff in white coats are Beauty Therapists, and not medically-trained – no worries.

Ask for an Aromatherapy Massage;  deep tissue, Sports and Swedish massage are generally much too hard and deep, but a gentle massage will do a power of good.

Same with Facials – both for women and men.  Don’t think of these as spoiling yourself, but as the best way of maintaining your skin and preventing ‘nasties’ from breaking out.

And a swim in the pool, particularly if you can join in a Water Aerobics class, is a wonderful way to get in your post-cancer exercise.

Either way – Enjoy!





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