Castilla-La Mancha shuts night-time emergency services in 21 towns

Socialist Party says measure will affect 120,000 people

Inhabitants of 21 municipalities in Castilla-La Mancha will have to travel further afield for night-time emergency assistance from Monday after the regional government closed their local services as part of cost-cutting measures.

Castilla-La Mancha premier María Dolores de Cospedal of the Popular Party (PP) said the closure of 21 Continuous Attention Points (PACs) around the region was due to the “low number” of patients using the night centers, which was not enough to justify the cost of their upkeep.

The move, which the Socialist Party says will affect 120,000 people -- in both the affected and neighboring towns -- has angered local residents, who have participated in numerous acts in recent days to protest the measure.

Among those showing the most resistance were the inhabitants of Tembleque, Toledo province, who locked themselves inside a health center on January 10, though were removed by the Civil Guard later that evening.

Regional health chief José Ignacio Echániz said those affected by the closures still have emergency treatment guaranteed in the form of ambulance and helicopter services.

However, some health professionals say the measure will put people in serious danger. According to the Castilla-La Mancha Nursing Union (SATSE), the decision is “unacceptable because it solely arises out of economic criteria,” and will lead to a “rise in the probability of mortality in the affected population.”

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