Son Dureta hospital in Palma is on the verge of a summer beds crisis with some of the rooms designed for single patients already crammed with as many as four beds. The middle of June is supposed to be a relatively quiet period. The bed shortage normally strikes during the winter when the region is hit by the flu virus, but this summer, Son Dureta, mainly because Balearic government hospitals have withdrawn beds, is on the brink of a major breakdown in operations. Yesterday there were over 40 people waiting for a spare bed to become available in casualty. But the bed shortage is not only restricted to casualty, nurses and doctors are having to deal with the problem in all wings of the hospital where as many as four patients have been placed in rooms designed for one bed. Families of patients have complained about the lack of privacy and in one case, the family demanded that the hospital remove the fourth bed from one of the rooms. The bed was subsequently dumped on the balcony. Yesterday medical professionals joined the angry families with their complaints about the situation which is in danger of spiralling out of control. Nurses are under so much pressure that they are unable to serve some of patients' breakfast until gone ten o'clock while other patients are not being cleaned until after 11am. But, while Son Dureta is near breaking point, hospitals owned by the Balearic government, such as Palma's General and Joan March hospitals, have temporarily closed off half of their beds while wings are redecorated and modernised. Last winter the local government and the director general of the Insalud health service, Rodrigo de Santos, were locked in a battle over the lack of beds ahead of the flu virus and now it appears that the battle is about to start all over again. De Santos yesterday denounced the attitude of the local government hospitals and questioned “how they can be allowed to close while we are at breaking point. “They are rejecting patients” he said.

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