THE management of the Marina Baixa Hospital in Villajoyosa has sent a letter of complaint to the Ministry of Health stating that the facility is at full capacity and urgently needs to expand.
The hospital, which covers Benidorm, has only 270 beds, plus an additional seven in A&E. It is responsible for 196,000 residents with registered SIP cards in addition to a huge influx of holidaymakers, increasing pressure on resources, especially over the summer season.
Last February, Manuel Lombart, the Minister of Health in the Valencian Community, claimed that the hospital was working at only 85 per cent capacity, something the unions have disputed. In the few last weeks alone, up to eight patients have been left waiting on trolleys in the corridors, unmonitored due to a shortage of beds.
The ministry has ruled out extending the hospital in the short term. Talk of a second Social Security hospital in the Benidorm area has not come to fruition due to the economic crisis.
Health tourism has been an issue at the hospital and to overcome unpaid medical bills the hospital has reverted to charging those patients who arrive without obvious entitlement such as a valid SIP or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Credit card terminals have also been installed at health centres in the region, used to take on-the-spot payments.