Most doctors and nurses are expatriates. In fact, it is extremely rare to find a Saudi female nurse as the profession is not held in high esteem in Saudi society. While you do find some really good doctors in some hospitals, I have also come across some doctors who appear more to learn from the patients than making their diagnoses! It is impossible to generalize, but I would suggest you must choose your doctor by going by word of mouth rather than the name of the hospital. By the way, all hospitals are extremely clean and health care for all Saudi citizens is free of cost.
Diabetes and kidney stones top the list of ailements affecting most expatriates. Respiratory problems like asthma, sinusitis , upper respiratory tract infections and skin problems are also very common. This is more due to the high levels of pollutions in major cities and industrial hubs. Every seasonal change is accompanied by severe sand storms when fine sand and dust simply engulf the atmosphere. Temperatures soar well above 50 degrees Centigrade during summer with humidity levels reaching almost 99%. Heat strokes are quite common due to extreme dehydration. In winter, several parts of the kingdom reach almost 0 degrees Centigrade and viral fever is quite common in this season.
Doctors can usually be reached by appointments, but usually they do not refuse patients who go directly without an appointment, though they may have to wait for some time. Alternative medication like homoeopathy, ayurveda and unani are not legally permitted and so are their medicines.
Dental treatment is prohibitively expensive and most insurance companies do not cover certain treatments such as bridges, crowns, etc., as they are considered as cosmetic. It is quite difficult to get immediate appointments from dentists and there is always a long queue of people waiting in all dental clinics. Top class equipments are available, but things could get complicated if the patient has a history of diabetes / blood pressure. Again, I would advise expatriates to postpone visits to the dentist and get themselves treated back home if practically possible.
It is not common for expatriates to use the ambulance services as in other countries. Ambulance services are usually handled by security services and primarily cater to emergencies like road accidents. It is more common for expatriates to make their own arrangements to go to the hospital. One of the first things an expatriate needs to do upon arriving in the kingdom is to note down the number of the nearby hospitals, emergency services and taxi companies. Believe me, you never know when they would come in handy.
Finally, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. So, here's wishing all of you a healthy stay in the kingdom!