THE average delay for an operation in hospitals run by the Balearic Health Service (Ib-Salut) has fallen by nearly eight days in a year, dropping from 73.3 days in December 2004 to 65.8 days at the end of 2005 according to figures published by the Balearic Government. The waiting time for an operation in the Balearics is among the lowest in Spain and contrasts sharply with figures published by the Catalan Ministry of Health, whose average wait, as at December 2005, was four and a half months. In addition to this, the Balearic Ministry of Health said that seven out of ten patients on the waiting list for surgery (LEQ) were operated on before the average time. At the end of 2005 there were 11'466 people on the LEQ, which is an average of 12.10 people for every 1'000 inhabitants and is a rise of 8.1 percent compared to December 2004 when the LEQ had 10'603 patients, 11.57 for every 1'000 inhabitants. The rise in the number of patients on the waiting list for surgery in is line with the growth of the amount of people covered by Social Security by 38'881 during the last year. In December 2004 there were 951'436 social security cards, a figure which rose by 4 percent (to 990'257) at the end of 2005.