by Staff Reporter
THE Balearic government is preparing a plan to improve the 061 emergency service, which may include expanding its fleet of ambulances.
The 061 service has co-ordinated all national health transport on land and by air in the Balearics since January 1.
The new contingency plans are being drawn up by the health ministry and will include restructuring the 061 service and the connection between it and the emergency service reached by dialling 112. The possibility of increasing the fleet of ambulances for the UTE which has the concession for the service has not been ruled out.
Health minister Aina Castillo said that she was evaluating the service offered by UTE to see if it fulfils all the requisites.
She also confirmed that she was studying ways to improve the ambulance service which, she said, has always had a negative image.
María Dolores Riart, who is in charge of the 061 service, said that it functioned well but that does not mean that there is no room for improvements.
The service has a staff of about 100 persons, she said.
The service has a fleet of 135 ambulances for land and air transport and in summer handles an average of 1'900 calls a day (800 emergencies and 1'100 for programmed services). In winter, this drops to about 200 emergency calls and 1'400 programmed services a day.
In addition to the UTE fleet, there are 94 ambulances belonging to private hospitals including 12 run by the Red Cross.
Some of the ambulances only provide transport, but others are equipped to provide emergency care.
Dr José María Garcia Ruiz, who headed the company which used to have the concession, said that they had not entered a bid because they did not agree with the conditions laid down by the health ministry. He added “I will never tire of saying that the islands need a good fleet of ambulances, especially during the tourist season.” He added that in 2002, his company had provided 450'000 ambulance services, an indication of the volume of work in the national health sector.

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