The Catalan department of health is to contact hospitals asking them to stop performing non-emergency surgical operations in the afternoon as part of a cost-cutting programme (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The afternoon schedule of operations had been put in place as a way to ease waiting lists for surgeries at public hospitals across the region, but the procedures will be put on hold from this month as the Generalitat has decided to no longer finance them as it tries to bring its financial deficit under control. This is one of the decisions that will be officially delivered to managers at 44 public hospitals today by the director of the Servei Català de la Salut, Josep Maria Padrosa—the affected hospitals include Hospital Clínic, Hospital del Mar and Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona. These hospitals have to agree each year the purchase of certain medical services with the Generalitat, and another of the announcements due today is that this year the hospitals will receive funding worth two percent less than in 2010.
The unemployment rate in Catalunya has surpassed the 600,000 mark for the first time (read article in Catalan here, Avui). February saw a rise in the number of people looking for work in the autonomous community of 12,988, an increase of 2.2 percent compared to January. In total, 602,611 people are currently out of work in Catalunya, while in Spain as a whole, the figure rose by 68,260 in February bringing the new total to 4,299,263, according to data from the Ministry of Employment.
More details have emerged of the plans by the Spanish government to cut costs in its energy budget, which are due to be approved on Friday (read article in Castilian, El Periodico). Following revelations earlier this week by José Blanco, the minister of public works, of the intention to change some road and tunnel lighting to LED as a way of reducing the department's budget, in the "next few weeks or months", bulbs in public buildings and street lights will be changed for low-energy ones, while different departments of the government will start to share official cars. This time the announcement didn't come from the government itself, however, but from the president of the Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, Pedro Castro, following a meeting with the Industry minister, Miguel Sebastián, who preferred not to make any statement. Castro, who is the mayor of Getafe, said that it was hoped that the moves would save 42 percent of the budget for electricity of towns and cities, and 50 percent of the administration's official car budget.