The international ratings agencies Moody's, Standard & Poors, and Fitch have significantly increased the profits they have made in Spain since 2006, despite their recent negative analysis of the state of the Spanish economy (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Yesterday, for instance, Standard & Poors announced a forecast of debt for the autonomous communities here of 1.7 percent of GDP this year, compared to the Spanish government's prediction of 1.3 percent. In the past years, the Spanish economy has been battered by debt, which has led savings banks and banks to have to constantly turn to international markets to find funds; the valuation of ratings firms are indispensable for any financial company, business or government that seeks funds from the money markets. However, while the rating of Spain has become increasingly negative, in the past five years these companies have 'feathered their nest' here (han hecho el agosto). The collective profits of Moody's, S&P and Fitch in Spain rose from €7.9 million in 2006 to €20.8 in 2010, according to information registered by them in the Registro Mercantil. In addition, their staff numbers in Spain rose from 67 to 89 employees.
The Fundació del RACC (the Catalan automobile association) has presented a report criticising inadequacies in road signs in Catalunya (read article in Catalan here, Avui). "A citizen should never have to get lost, and less when they are trying to find a hospital in an emergency," said Xavier Abadia, who is in charge of mobility at the foundation, during the presentation of the report yesterday. While it found various flaws in the indications for drivers who might be trying to find particular destinations, the worst cases involved public hospitals, with the most negative case being that of Sant Pau i Santa Tecla in Tarragona—Abadia said that it was "impossible" to find this hospital. The study investigated 737 and 538 kilometres of motorways and main roads in the Costa Brava and Costa Daurada, respectively. One of the supposed reasons for the problem is that the signs are the responsibility of different administrations, leading to a lack of co-ordination over signalling places of interest or importance. The RACC found that for people looking for a hospital in an unfamiliar place, signs lacked continuity or were simply non-existent.
Patients have started to notice the effects of cuts in hospital budgets (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Although the efforts of doctors and nurses have managed to make the cuts less obvious to those needing emergency or serious care in one of the Catalan public hospitals, in other areas, the effects of the Generalitat's reduced spending in this area are now being felt. "The hospital is empty," commented one of the heads of services at the Vall d'Hebrón hospital, which, like all those centres that are part of the Institut Català del Salut, have stopped using 50 percent of their operating theatres (20 percent more than in past summers) and haven't contracted the 600 nurses that would normally be hired to cover holidays at this time of year. While the health department of the Catalan government hasn't offered official figures on the number of surgical interventions that have been postponed since May, it is clear that the number of operations on waiting lists, which were 54,000 last December, will have grown. Those affected have not yet been given a firm date for their operations because the hospitals involved are waiting until the end of negotiations with the government to start arranging the surgeries. "There is enormous uncertainty in all the hospitals," according to Ramón Cunillera, director-general of the Consorci de Salut i Social de Catalunya (CSSC), which represents 56 state-assisted public centres. "The general objective is to adapt costs to the cuts and not hire replacement or temporary staff: those who are still here will do everything, that's the idea," added Cunillera.