THE Secretary General of the central government Ministry of Health, Rafael Pérez Santamarina, addressed a Parliamentary commission on the subject of the smooth running of the health service during the heat wave. At the same meeting, the Socialists expressed concern over the present government's purported lack of support for social services. Pérez Santamarina gave a repeat reading of a report that had been called for by the Ministry of Health on deaths that had been registered during the past months of July and August. Fifty-nine people in the Balearics died as a direct result of the heat wave and 82 deaths were due to conditions, such as respiratory disorders, being aggravated by the excessive temperatures. Santamarina asserted that no complaints from the country's self-governing communites had been received and that mortality figure increases were not directly linked with the unusually high and persistent temperatures experienced in Spain and other European countries. Intensity of heat was greater in the Eastern areas of Spain such as the Balearics, and not so marked in areas such as Asturias or Galicia where summer temperatures are traditionally lower. The Socialist deputy, Francisco Fidalgo, commented that the Health system acted like a “Social Welfare mattress”. He praised its resilience, which he attributed above everything to the professionalism of doctors and health workers. He drew attention, however, to the dangers of depending on such dedication instead of addressing “the lack of social policy” and “the fall of spending on public services in Spain”.

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