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The Best Of Health

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New pledges on a better deal

Prescription charges are set to be scrapped for low income pensioners and the disabled on the Costa Blanca and across the Valencia region, whilst patients in the Murcia region with serious acute or chronic conditions will be guaranteed appointments, surgery and treatment within one month. These major pledges were made by the health ministers of the respective two regions.

In Valencia, anyone earning 18 thousand euros a year or more in gross pay has had to pay half of the full retail price for any medication prescribed, with a few lines of chronic-care drugs exempt. This can be anything from a couple of euros to 50 euros or more per prescription. Anyone in receipt of a State pension from any country for retirement or permanent disability has always been exempt from payment, with ‘red’ prescription documents showing they get free medicine as opposed to ‘green’ prescriptions for those who have to pay a contribution. Now everyone of any age and with any level of income has to pay towards their essential medication. But Health Minister, Carmen Montón says this is due to stop for pensioners who take home less than one thousand euros a month, or for the permanently disabled.

“Many have to choose between taking necessary medication, and paying their bills,” said health minister Montón. “In the last two months alone, seven point nine percent of people in the Valencia region have had to stop taking their medication because they cannot afford it – and that’s desperately unfair.”

As part of her department’s plan to reduce health service costs, Montón says the privatised hospitals in Elche and Torrevieja will be put back in public-sector hands, but before this takes place, her team will ‘scrupulously enforce’ the terms of contracts held with the district healthcare management companies and closely monitor their finances

In the Murcia region, the government has explained their new waiting list pledge involving people being given treatment within a month if they are suffering from a serious condition. Murcia’s health minister, Encarna Guillén says her department wants to cut waiting lists to a minimum, starting with patients classed as ‘priority one’, whose medical conditions are not an immediate emergency but are among the most serious.

 

Guillén will allow patients to be transferred to private hospitals who would then bill the Murcia health service or state hospitals will be able to pay their own doctors and nurses overtime without getting prior approval from the regional health department, Anyone who has been on a waiting list for a full year or more will be the first to be seen. Where practical, patients may be sent to hospitals in other districts for treatment or consultations.

The Murcia region sees over 50 thousand patients treated per day, with emergency departments dealing with around two thousand cases on a daily basis, with over 175 thousand operations carried out each year. Sra Guillén has pledged to ensure full job security for all healthcare employees and the best possible working conditions in order to “guarantee a quality and efficient service for patients.”  Investments totalling 58 million euros have been made in the region’s main hospitals, and an additional 24 million euros will be ploughed into the local health service over the next four years.

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