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Barcelona hospital closes its surgery ward because of regional health cuts

Cancer patients, including one with seven tumors, are left in limbo at Bellvitge

One of Barcelona’s largest hospitals closed its surgery ward on Friday because of the regional government health cuts, leaving many patients who were scheduled to have procedures without any alternative dates.

Bellvitge Hospital, which has been one of Spain’s most important health facilities for complex surgeries, canceled all of the day’s procedures. Among the patients affected by this sudden closure was Silvia López, a 33-year-old woman who was meant to have seven cancerous tumors removed from her rectal area. The cancer has spread to her liver.

“All of these months of chemotherapy and weeks of diet so they can leave us out in the cold at the last minute,” she said.

Additionally, a hospital official said there wasn’t any money to treat the hundreds of patients — many of them elderly — who have come down with seasonal flu. “We have been hit right in the middle of the flu epidemic and there are not enough beds for patients,” the spokesman said. The Catalan government of Artur Mas has made some $1.2 billion euros in cuts, or 12 percent of the region’s health budget.

The closing of Bellvitge surgery ward also left four other patients who were set to have cancer operations without alternatives, hospital sources said.