Balearic health minister Aina Salom, accompanied by government spokesman Antoni Garcias and finance minister Joan Mesquida, will be in Madrid today to discuss the transfer of responsibility for the national health service from the central to the local government. The meeting will be held in the public administrations building in the Paseo de la Castellana, and is due to begin at 1.30pm. Talks are now in their final stages, but finance continues to be a stumbling block. Although there will be a large Balearic contingent at the talks, it will not include government leader Francesc Antich who earlier this month snubbed central health minister Celia Villalobos by not attending the opening of the new national health hospital of Son Llatzer, also known as Palma II. It had been announced earlier that he would attend. The negotiating committees have been in contact by telephone, and sources say that “although it is difficult it is also probable” that the Balearic government will sign the agreement today. The central government is offering a deal which includes 102'000 million pesetas to finance the health service. But the Balearic government is seeking an additional 27'000 million pesetas, which is for the construction of the hospitals of Inca and Mahon and reforms to the Son Dureta hospital, which is still the biggest one in the islands. It now seems that the central government is willing to take on the national health services debts in the Balearics at December 31, 2001.


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