Healthcare Services

Doctors in Qatar

Ensure you and your family can access the best primary care in your new home with our look at doctors in Qatar.

Doctors in Qatar
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By Beatriz Camacho

Updated 18-3-2024

It may not be the most exciting part of expat life, but learning to navigate the Qatari healthcare system is an important part of your new life in the Gulf. Thankfully, with modern facilities and advanced medical technology Qatar often ranks as one of the best healthcare systems in the Middle East.

However, even for the most seasoned expat, understanding how a new system works can be a steep learning curve. Indeed, there’s a lot to figure out, from dentists to hospitals and everything in between. But, if you need a doctor in Qatar, this article has information on the following:

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Doctors in Qatar

Like many countries, Qatar is home to both public and private healthcare systems. While locals receive free treatment in the public system, most new arrivals to Qatar will only be able to access subsidized public care by applying for a Qatari health card. The alternative for those without a health card is to access care through the private system. This treatment can be paid for directly, or through any health insurance policy you may have.

doctor speaking on phone while checking computer

On the public side, healthcare in Qatar is overseen by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), with two governmental organizations operating the country’s licensed health facilities:

  • the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), which runs regional health centers across the country, focused on primary care: disease prevention, healthy lifestyles, and wellness;
  • the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), which runs facilities including public hospitals, the national ambulance service, and residential care services. It is the main provider of secondary and tertiary healthcare in Qatar.

In terms of numbers, is well-furnished with doctors. Indeed, the country has the most doctors per capita in the world. There are approximately 77.4 physicians per 10,000 people. Around 69% of doctors across the public and private sectors are expatriates. This makes it easier than ever for you to access English-speaking care in the country.

Who can access doctors in Qatar?

All residents with valid IDs and residence permits can access the health services provided by the public healthcare system in Qatar. To benefit from subsidized rates at public healthcare facilities or hospitals, you must first apply for a government health card (known as Hamad Health Card). You can do this card at the PHCC nearest to your house or online via Hukoomi.

As of 2022, the card costs QR100 for expatriate residents and must be paid by credit card. When applying for the card, you need to fill out an application form and provide the following documents:

  • valid passport/ID
  • valid residence permit
  • 2 passport-size photographs (4cm x 3cm)
  • a recent utility bill (as a proof of address)
  • original ID of your sponsor (for domestic staff only)

To register any dependant children, you must also provide their birth certificate and vaccination card.

doctors in qatar checking patients x-ray

Those without health cards, including any tourists or temporary visitors in the country, should have health or travel insurance to cover any medical costs. If you have insurance, the best way to find a doctor is to contact your insurance provider for information on the clinics you can access on their coverage. You can then book an appointment either through your provider or directly with the clinic.

Finding a doctor in Qatar

All doctors in Qatar, working at a public or private institution, need to be registered at the Department of Healthcare Professions (DHP), linked to the Ministry of Public Health. On the DHP website’s Search Practitioners section, you can find an updated list of all licensed doctors in Qatar.

You can also find other medical professionals on the site, such as nurses, dentists, pharmacists, laboratorian technicians, etc. This list indicates the practitioner’s complete name, place of work, the scope of their practice, license number, and license expiration date.

The Hukoomi website has also a section, Find Physician, where you can search for public and private doctors.

Finding English-speaking doctors in Qatar

Around 70% of the doctors in Qatar are expats, and this number grows to about 90% for nurses. Indeed, some private hospitals are staffed entirely by foreigners. Therefore, it is very common to find doctors in Qatar that speak English and other foreign languages. In addition, at certain public institutions, such as the Hamad General Hospital, it is also possible to request an interpreter.

doctor and male patient sit on clinic bed

Alternatively, you may wish to seek personal recommendations when finding an English-speaking doctor in Qatar. You can do this by asking friends and colleagues in your new home. You may also want to join online groups and forums and ask for recommendations there. These can be found on Facebook and other websites.

Registering with a doctor in Qatar

Once you are registered with the public health card, the system provides you with a general practitioner (GP) at the nearest health care center. All your medical record files with all your medical data will be reunited in this health center. If you want to change your GP, you can submit an online request through the Nar’aakom App.

Making an appointment with doctors in Qatar

To make or reschedule an appointment at a PHCC, you can call 107 to access the PHCC’s appointment line. You can request an appointment by calling this number or going to the nearest health center. For non-urgent patients, clinics typically offer an appointment for the next day or within 72 hours.

Alternatively, if you want to see a private doctor (whether a GP or specialist), you can typically call or go directly to the private practice in question. In this case, the waiting time will typically be shorter than you would expect at the country’s public health centers.

What to expect when visiting a doctor in Qatar

When seeing a doctor at a public health center, particularly for your first visit, you will typically need to present the following documents:

  • valid health card
  • passport/ID (or a copy)
  • appointment card
  • referral letter (for initial appointments with specialists)

You may also need to provide medical documents and prescription information, depending on your situation. If a follow-up appointment is needed, you can typically arrange it immediately after your first.

Doctor checking patients blood pressure

As expats still need to pay for most of the appointments, even if it is a reduced fee, it is a good idea to check with the clinic ahead of time to understand their preferred payment method. Some clinics may only accept cash, while others may only accept credit cards. Some institutions can also directly bill your insurance company.

At private clinics, you do not necessarily need to bring any special documents, except your ID/passport. However, previous medical documents and prescriptions are important to create a medical file.

Home care services in Qatar

Many clinics in Qatar also offer home doctor visits, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can typically check the doctors who are available for this service directly on the clinic website. There is also an app called MetaDoc that offers exclusively home care services.

Medical specialists in Qatar

If you use the public healthcare system in Qatar, the PHCC Health Center where you are registered should be your first point of contact for all non-emergency complaints.

Your GP will decide if you need further medical treatment based on an assessment. If necessary, your doctor will refer you to a public hospital, where you will consult with a specialist. In the public system, you will need a referral to visit a specialist.

In the private system, you typically won’t need to get a referral in order to visit a private specialist. However, it is always a good idea to seek advice from your GP for any complaint.

male doctor shows female patient x-rays

Finding a public healthcare specialist in Qatar

On the Hukoomi website, in the “Hospitals and Health Facilities around you” section, you can find an updated list of all hospitals and clinics in Qatar and their medical specialties. However, bear in mind that in the public healthcare system, there is no guarantee that you can choose the specialist you see.

Finding a private healthcare specialist in Qatar

If you have private health insurance, you can contact your insurance company to find a specialist that will accept your policy. Typically, health insurance providers will have a list of these specialists and services on their website. Alternatively, you can contact the clinic in question and ask. However, it’s usually easier to do so through your insurance provider.

There are also online directories where you can search for private doctors, read reviews from other verified patients, and book appointments. On these platforms, you can filter for location, language, insurance, reviews, etc. These platforms include:

Visiting a specialist in Qatar

Once you have a referral from your GP, you can book an appointment through the PHCC website or app, Nar’aakom. Be aware it can take up to 24 hours to get confirmation of your appointment. For urgent cases or to request same-day appointments, you should call 107 directly.

On the day of the appointment, remember to take your health card otherwise you will be charged for the appointment.

For an appointment with private specialists, you can call directly to the clinic or hospital where the specialist attends. Alternatively, you can try to book an appointment through their website.

Cost of doctors and specialists in Qatar

The costs of doctors and specialists in Qatar can vary considerably. It will predominantly depend on the medical system you choose: public or private (or both combined).

In the public system, the possession of a health card will significantly reduce your medical costs in Qatar, but you will still need to make additional payments. Consultations, medications, or non-emergency treatments may all cost a little extra. For example, an initial consultation costs around QR30 even for those with a health card.

Qatari doctor examining an X-ray

In private practices, however, the initial consultation fee can vary between QR100 and QR300 depending upon the clinic. This price does not include any tests or medication, which will be added to the initial fee if needed. That’s why many prefer to pay for health check-ups, as they already include certain tests. The price range for a check-up is between QR100 and QR500, but you may be able to cover this with your insurance policy, depending on your coverage.

Health insurance in Qatar

While Qatar’s public healthcare system is well-appointed and accessible, some expats prefer to take out private health insurance. Despite the costs associated, private healthcare can provide you access to more specialized services, faster treatments, and English-speaking staff.

Expat-friendly health insurance providers operating in Qatar include:

Find out more with our look at health insurance in Qatar.

Health insurance costs

Health insurance costs vary widely between companies. The prices vary according to the level of coverage desired, the number of dependents, the hospitals and health centers the insurance company has agreements with, etc. Contact your provider to discuss the best options for you. Be sure to research your options carefully before signing up.

Changes to Qatar healthcare insurance scheme in 2022

Since May 2022, a new compulsory health insurance scheme has been in place in Qatar.

All expats and visitors in Qatar must have private health insurance during their stay to receive basic medical services. This means that employers in Qatar are required to provide health insurance coverage for expats and their families through contracts with insurance companies registered with the Ministry of Public Health.

Due to the uncertainty over how the state will manage public healthcare in the future, it is highly recommended that expats moving to Qatar invest in private healthcare insurance.

Private doctors and specialists in Qatar

With six private hospitals and more than 200 private polyclinics in Qatar, private healthcare operators have an important role in keeping up with the country’s growing demand for services. In 2018, there were 5,180 doctors working in the public sector against 3,160 doctors and specialists working in the private health sector in Qatar.

Despite its high quality and effectiveness, private care in Qatar remains quite expensive. Therefore, the best way to use its services is through health insurance.

Doctor prescriptions in Qatar

Certain medicines, such as painkillers, cough medicine, and eye drops, are available from pharmacies and supermarkets without a prescription. However, some medicines that can be bought without prescription in other countries require one in Qatar, and vice-versa. Check with your doctor if you are unsure.

Entrance of a pharmacy in Doha, Qatar

If you take any kind of medication regularly, consult your doctor to find an appropriate substitute before moving to Qatar. Also, remember to take details of your prescription with you so you can continue with a local doctor in Qatar. Pharmacies don’t accept foreign prescriptions.

Medicines in Qatar are quite expensive. For that reason, never forget to ask for the receipt if you want to claim the expenses from your insurance.

Most pharmacies are open from Saturdays to Thursdays, from morning to late evening. There are also many online and 24-hour pharmacies in Qatar.

Remote prescriptions during COVID times

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) decided that pharmacies can temporarily accept prescriptions issued by e-mail or WhatsApp by doctors who are working remotely. This permission does not include narcotic drugs and dangerous psychotropic substances.

Moreover, the HMC activated a prescription delivery service. Patients can order their medication by calling 16000 and following the instructions.

Medical tests in Qatar

Medical tests in Qatar can be accessed with a referral from your GP. In some cases, it is possible to do a self-referral by contacting a nurse in your health center. The PHCCs provide simple and routine tests, such as cancer screenings.

For early identification of health problems and risks, your GP may offer you a Smart Health Check-up. Based on the results of these laboratory tests, you will receive personalized care and treatment.

Medical tests for the Qatari visa

If you’re planning to live in Qatar, you need to take a medical examination to receive a residence permit. The measure aims to protect the health of the population and prevent the spread of diseases in the country.

The first step is to obtain a blood-type certificate. Then, you must book an appointment with the Medical Commission to undergo a more detailed medical examination. The tests in the Medical Commission include an x-ray of the chest (to check for tuberculosis) and a blood test (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis).

Emergency doctors in Qatar

The emergency phone number in Qatar is 999. Anyone in Qatar can receive emergency treatment at either public or private hospitals. However, those without a health card or adequate insurance coverage will have to pay full costs. All emergency services at public institutions are free of charge for those with a health card.

Ambulance driving in Doha, Qatar

Emergency departments are open 24/7 and provide initial treatment to patients with life-threatening medical emergencies. Each one of the Hamad Medical Corporation’s hospitals complexes has an emergency department, all staffed with a specialist emergency team. This includes: doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and ambulance paramedics.

Urgent telemedicine consultation in Qatar

The HMC also provides an urgent telemedicine consultation service to help patients get the necessary diagnosis without visiting the hospital. The service is available from Saturday to Thursday, from 7 am to 10 pm, and is free of charge. You just need to dial the Qatar Health Care Unified Contact Center, number 16000.

If you want to see a private emergency doctor, call your insurance provider or check online directories to find a specialist best suited to your needs.

Find out more with our look at emergency numbers and services in Qatar.

Making a complaint about doctors or specialists in Qatar

All patients are able to submit a complaint against a healthcare practitioner in Qatar. They must submit a formal complaint via the Governmental Health Communication Center (GHCC) to the Fitness to Practice Department (FTP).

Complaints about the practitioners’ professional conduct or competence can include: wrong diagnosis, inadequate procedures and treatments; lack of confidentiality; refusal to see a patient; discrimination, or bias, and other inappropriate conduct.

If there is any solid evidence of malpractice or medical error, the FTP Section ​will take the necessary actions and sanctions.

Useful Arabic medical phrases

Most of the hospitals and health centers in Qatar have practitioners who can speak English. At Hamad General Hospital, you can even request an interpreter to assist you. However, if you want to learn a few medical phrases, you can find apps that offer online Dictionaries of Arabic and English medical terms.

Here are some words you might want to remember:

  • Hospital – mustashfaa
  • Help me – saa danee
  • Medicine – dawa
  • Doctor – duktuur
  • I am sick – ana mareed

Useful resources