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Air ambulance from Portugal: your medical repatriation options

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Air ambulance from Portugal: your medical repatriation options

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Portugal has always been a favourite holiday destination for British travellers. It is considered to be the one of the least expensive tourist spots in Europe, all the while offering the best beaches and landscapes. However, whenever you are travelling, it is essential that you take certain precautions to ensure your safety. 

Looking at the appeal of Portugal for British travellers, we will also look at potential medical emergencies that can happen in the country. Despite the high-quality health services available in Portugal, British travellers prefer returning back to the UK to speed up their recovery. This can be done either in an air ambulance or with a medical escort, both options being safe for patient transportation. 

Portugal: one of the top holiday destinations for British travellers 

If officials in Portugal were worried that the coronavirus pandemic would affect the number of visitors in the country, they thought wrong. Since long before the pandemic, the Iberian country has been a favourite holiday destination for British travellers and it seems that they were just waiting for a relaxation of rules to head back to the sunny beaches of Southern Europe. 


A study advances that searches for Portugal touristic spots for the summer season have increased by over 25% among British travellers. The sun, the sea, the amazing landscape, along with affordability, are all part of the appeal of Portugal as a holiday destination. In 2022, a total of 431 of its world-famous beaches and marinas have obtained blue flags for eco-tourism.  

Some of the top spots for British travellers in Portugal are: 

  • Porto Santo
  • Comporta in South Lisbon
  • Vila Real de Santo Antonio in Algarve
  • Madeira
  • Alentejo

Good to know: Portugal has introduced electronic passport gates at the airport, speeding up the control process and allowing British travellers fast-tracked entry into the country. 

Medical emergencies that are common in Portugal 

Travelling to Portugal does not come without risks. Planning a successful trip involves being aware of the risks, and most importantly the medical emergencies, that might happen. 

Common medical emergencies that might happen when you are on holiday in Portugal are: 

  • Food poisoning - from undercooked food or unhygienic street food
  • Hepatitis A- from contaminated food and water  
  • Trauma from traffic and other accidents 
  • Injuries, fractures etc. from slips and falls
  • Covid-19 
  • Complications/ overdose related to spiked drinks 
  • Illnesses related to insect bites (Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and West Nile virus)
  • Rabies and other infections from animals 

patient in hospital

Why opt for medical repatriation from Portugal in case of an emergency? 

When travelling to Portugal, British travellers can apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) after Brexit. This allows them to obtain subsidized healthcare in Portugal. However, it does not cover all treatments and all the costs. 

Despite the fact that Portugal boasts a robust and sophisticated healthcare system, it is not the best option for British travellers if they need long-term treatment. For medical emergencies involving a complicated and lengthy recovery, most tourists prefer returning back to the UK via medical repatriation.

Besides the NHS offering free healthcare services, one of the main advantages of coming back to the UK is getting treated by a medical professional who is acquainted with your medical history. This allows for more efficient treatment and lower risks of side effects from medications that the patient might be allergic to. 

Moreover, being in a familiar environment, surrounded by your relatives and friends fastens recovery time in comparison to being on your own in a foreign country. As such, medical repatriation from Portugal is better option for British travellers who sick and injured in Portugal. 

Travel advice: get travel insurance covering medical repatriation when planning your holidays in Portugal 

An air ambulance from Portugal to the UK 

The safest option for medical repatriation from Portugal to the UK is via air ambulances. These are medical planes in the sense that they are fitted with medical equipment and instead of the usual cabin crew, you will find doctors and paramedics on board. 

ambulance jet

Why are air ambulances considered to be the safest patient transport option?

Air ambulances have been specifically designed for the purpose of transporting patients, unlike commercial planes, which are not equipped with the necessary tools to provide medical treatment or care. The level of patient care in an air ambulance can be compared to that of an ICU, or if you are travelling, to that of ground ambulances, except that air ambulances are much faster, can travel longer distances and offer added comfort

Medical Repatriation UK has air ambulances that are fitted with the latest medical equipment and tech to ensure a safe patient transfer. Moreover, the equipment can be specialised according to the patient’s specific medical condition

Air ambulance for COVID-19 patients from Portugal 

At Medical Repatriation UK, we have taken care to devise medical flight options for COVID-19 patients as well. For the safe transfer of those who have tested positive for coronavirus, without the risk of infecting others, we equip our air ambulances with a special isolation device

The patient travels in this isolation device, which eliminates the chances of spreading the coronavirus. Nonetheless, appropriate treatment and care are provided by doctors via special ports. It goes without saying that the appropriate sanitary protocols are followed. 

Medical escort option from Portugal to the UK

For sicknesses and injuries that enable travel on commercial planes, patients can also opt for a medical escort. The price of this air ambulance service is lower. It involves being accompanied by a medical professional, overseeing the patient’s condition and providing assistance and emergency care, throughout the flight. 

medical escort on scheduled flight

However, this option is incumbent upon certain conditions. It is not suitable for patients in a critical condition requiring constant care since there will be limited medical equipment onboard. Moreover, the commercial airline company has to deliberate upon the patient transport and give its approval, which may take a few days. 

Depending on the patient’s condition, this option is feasible. 

Contact us for an air ambulance from Portugal to the UK 

If you are in Portugal for your holidays and you got sick or injured, get in touch with us. During a free consultation session, our aviation agents will listen to your needs and advise you on the best possible air ambulance service based on your medical condition.