BALEARIC residents who from next year are still having to wait more than six months for an operation or more than two months for a specialist consultation on the National Health Service, will be able to have free access to private health care in such circumstances. The measures have now been made law under a Balearic government decree set up to tackle queues for public health care. Some seven million euros have been invested in the project. Aina Castillo, regional Health minister confirmed the policy yesterday during her presentation of her department's budget for the coming year. An extra 1'031 million euros is to be made available in 2006, a figure representing an increase of 5.7 percent over and above funds set aside in 2005. The aim of allowing patients who have an excessively long wait for treatment to “go private”, is to address the issue of National Health queues.
However, assured Castillo, the majority of patients on the Islands are seen to in public hospitals “before three months is up.” The minister asserted that except in very specific circumstances, no National Health patient in the region has waited more than six months to be operated on in 2005. Son Dureta and Manacor hospitals, both public, put a five-month maximum waiting time as the limit. To see a consultant this year, the average waiting time for National Health patients has been 32 days.
Meanwhile, primary health care centres around the Islands will be back to normal within a week, after having dealt with the backlog of analytical work triggered by the health technicians' strike. The stoppage came to an end yesterday after more than a month. Primary healthcare nursing staff are asking patients to attend the centres in stages to undergo any necessary analysis, so as to avoid log-jamming the system all at once today. Nursing director, Pablo Hermoso, said that today's appointments would attempt to cover the work which built up during the time of the strike but from Monday, all would be functioning normally.

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