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Health is a basic element in the quality of life and a priority for the citizens. For that reason, since the creation of Osakidetza -the Basque Health Service– in 1984,investment in health has been one of the foundations of social policy in the Basque Country, and particularly in Bizkaia.
We should not forget that annual spending on public healthcare per inhabitant in the three historic territories of the Basque Country is among the highest in the world.
In terms of its social healthcare situation, the Basque Country is divided into three health provision areas that correspond to each of the historic territories. So, Osakidetza guarantees the suitable organisation of primary healthcare in Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa that is coordinated with specialist healthcare.
The Basque Health Service comprises:
– 7 healthcare districts, 131 Primary Care Units, and 320 health centres for primary care.
– 12 Acute Care Hospitals and 4 Mid to Long Stay Hospitals in terms of hospital care.
-4 psychiatric hospitals, 5 integrated psychiatric units in Acute Care Hospitals, and 3 non-hospital mental health areas for the discipline of mental health.
Osakidetza is also in charge of coordinating emergency care and healthcare in emergency situations.
This body also integrates the Basque Transfusion and Human Tissue Centre, and Osatek, the public institution responsible for managing, administering and running high-tech imaging services.
Map of Osakidetza service organisations
Healthcare in Bizkaia
The Historic Territory of Bizkaia, with the largest population in the Basque Country, offers the most healthcare resources with 3,619 beds (in public and private centres) and 12,350 healthcare professionals. The territory is also home to several leading centres, with highly qualified professionals providing a high quality healthcare service.
These centres include: the Hospital de Galdakao-Usansolo, theHospital Universitario Basurto and the Hospital Universitario Cruces, the largest in Bizkaia and leading hospital in the north of Spain, with a Major Burns Unit and assisted reproduction centre, among other disciplines.
The Osakidetza network also includes the Hospital San Eloy (Barakaldo), the Hospital Santa Marina (Bilbao), the Hospital Gorliz (Gorliz) and the Bizkaia Mental Health Network (which encompasses the Hospital de Bermeo, the Hospital de Zaldíbar, the Hospital de Zamudio and the Bizkaia Non-Hospital Mental Healthcare facility). In addition, to deliver a closer form of healthcare, citizens can access outpatient hospitals, health centres, doctors’ surgeries, and continuous healthcare centres distributed throughout the historic territory.
The Basque Autonomous Community has become the autonomous community with the best health services after surpassing Navarre, which used to occupy this position, and has the highest budget per capita in the country, 1,548 Euros in 2014.
These data appear in the Report on the Health Services of the Autonomous Communities prepared by the Federation of Associations in Defense of Public Healthcare, according to which the Basque Country is followed by Navarre and Aragon in the ranking, although the report underlines that in the last year the “general deterioration” of the services has continued due to the “cuts” in public health funding.
The study concludes that the best services are offered by the Basque Country, which ranks higher than Navarre, and these autonomies are followed by Aragon and Asturias.
Health services are fair in Castile and Leon, Cantabria, Galicia, La Rioja and Andalusia and poor in Madrid, Murcia, Baleares, Castile-La Mancha and Extremadura.
The worst are those in the Canary Islands and Valencia, just like in the last six years, followed by Catalonia, a community which has moved back four positions and ranks fifteenth, down from the fifth position it occupied in 2009.
Likewise, the weight of private healthcare is greater in some regions than in others and Madrid, Catalonia, Valencian Community and Balearic Islands head the ranking in this regard.
The study comprises parameters per community such as waiting lists, expenditure per capita, number of beds and professionals, number of operating theatres, caesarean sections and CAT-type tests, pharmaceutical expenditure or the opinion of the citizens.
As for the health budget per capita in 2014, the highest is in the Basque Country (1,548.34 Euros) as opposed to Andalusia (1,004.32 Euros) whereas the highest number of Primary Care doctors per 1,000 inhabitants is in Navarre (2.34) and the lowest in Andalusia (1.54).
The opinion of the citizens is also reported and there are considerable differences between communities with regard to the percentage of people who are satisfied with the Health System, ranging from 7.18 % in Navarre to 5.55 % in the Canary Islands.