THE number of cases of flu in the Balearics has risen, leading to the cancellation of five operations Monday, 12 scheduled for yesterday and five today, in order to free beds for flu patients and those suffering from respiratory problems aggravated by the bad weather.
Balearic health minister Aina Castillo said yesterday that this was an exceptional measure to cope with the increase in flu cases, as it frees beds which would otherwise be occupied by patients recovering from operations.
She added that the cancelled operations were only a small proportion of the number peformed each day - between 83 and 90 at Son Dureta - and no operations had been cancelled at the city's second national health hospital, Son Llatzer.
She also said that no operations had been cancelled at the national health hospitals in Minorca and Ibiza, even though the rate of occupancy is very high.
The number of flu cases in the Balearics is currently 210 per 100'000 inhabitants, which is much higher than the same time last year, but significantly lower than figures for the rest of Spain, Castillo said yesterday.
Even so, she admitted that numbers are rising rapidly and in the previous week, it had been only 164 cases for every 100'000 inhabitants.
And casualty wards are still finding it hard to cope.
Castillo confirmed yesterday that the government is trying to find places in private hospitals for 60 patients who were waiting to be admitted in Son Dureta's casualty ward and 40 in similar circumstances at Son Llatzer.
She added that this was part of an agreement with private hospitals, under which places are found for national health patients, in accordance with the needs and possibilities of the regional government.
The minister explained that this measure was part of a contingency plan developed by the government to counteract the effects of flu, provide better care for patients and reduce pressure on health workers by making the best use of all the resources available in the Balearics.
The plan also included the annual vaccination campaign which is aimed at the most vulnerable sectors of society.
The minister added that thanks to the plan, 80 additional health workers had been employed and the number of beds available had been increased by 100.
Castillo also commented on recent criticism by the UGT trade union, about the functioning of Son Dureta and Son Llatzer hospitals.
She said that the alleged deficiences would be investigated, but pointed out that Son Dureta is now 50 years old and is considered obsolete. Rather than refurbish the hospital, the government has decided to build a new one, at Ses Espases, a site which has caused considerable controversy because of its proximity to the Real monastery.
People living near the monastery claim that their quality of life will be destroyed as the new hospital will mean new roads will be built and there will be an increase in traffic.
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