A study by the Andalucian Consumers in Action Federation (Facua) has shown that people can save up to 70% in dentist fees if they shop around first. As an example, Facua used oral hygiene treatments, which some dentists do for as little as €35 while others charge €60. Having a tooth pulled out costs between €50 and €80, although the health centres provide this service free. The Facua report, based on a survey of 116 dental clinics in the eight Andalucian capitals, found differences of up to €300 in the prices of some dental treatments.
Golf legend Seve Ballesteros underwent a successful third operation last Friday to reduce swelling and remove remnants of a tumour in his brain. The operation, led by chief brain surgeon Javier Heredero at La Paz Hospital in Madrid, lasted more than six hours. In a statement, doctors said the 51-year-old five-time major winner was in a stable condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Ballesteros was admitted to hospital after briefly losing consciousness at Madrid Airport on October 6th. He was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent surgery, but he needed another operation to relieve pressure on the brain last Tuesday. In an open letter to fans, he acknowledged the seriousness of the illness – saying he faced what he called the “most difficult match” of his life. Ballesteros won 87 titles during his career, including the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and the Masters in 1980 and 1983. He was an instrumental figure in Europe’s Ryder Cup resurgence after making his debut in 1979 when the competition was expanded from Great Britain and Ireland to include players from continental Europe. After controversially being left out in 1981, Ballesteros returned in 1983 and helped Europe beat the United States for the first time in 28 years in 1985 to begin two decades of dominance. He went on to win eight caps, winning 22 and a half points from 37 matches. He also teamed up with countryman Jose Maria Olazabal to form the most successful partnership in Ryder Cup history, with 11 wins, two losses and two halves. After his last appearance as a player in 1995, Ballesteros captained Europe to victory on home soil at Valderrama in 1997. He retired last year following arthritic back and knee problems late in his career, while doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat when he was admitted to hospital in 2007.
The 46-year-old British man whose body was found in a flat in Barcelona on October 8th has been identified as Derek Cowan, who had been living in Spain for the past seven years. The Scottish businessman was found bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood by his German business partner. Detectives investigating the murder want to interview a former business associate, William Madley, who was due to meet with Mr Cowan on the day he was found dead. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed that they are in contact with the Spanish authorities and a full investigation is underway by the Catalan regional police, Los Mossos d’Esquadra.
Golf legend Seve Ballesteros suffered a complication following surgery on a brain tumour last Tuesday but is said to be in a stable condition, after doctors removed a piece of his skull last Thursday to relieve pressure that was building up on the brain. Ballesteros, 51, collapsed in Madrid’s Barajas Airport on October 6th. He underwent a number of tests, which uncovered the tumour. A biopsy on the tumour had been scheduled for last Tuesday but doctors decided to operate to remove as much of the tumour as possible before treatment. Ballesteros won 87 titles during his career, including the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and the Masters in 1980 and 1983 and captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory at Valderrama in 1997. He retired last year following arthritic back and knee problems late in his career and doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat when he was admitted to hospital in 2007.
A British woman and one of her twin daughters died in a flash flood in Valencia last Thursday. Lorraine Cullen, 47, and Lauren, 14, died trying to cross a ravine with fellow twin Samantha and the girls’ Spanish friend Gemma. Mark Cullen said the swollen river was only up to their knees but “one of them slipped and the others came crashing down”. He said Samantha grabbed hold of a tree and pulled Gemma to safety but “Lorraine and Lauren were gone”. The incident happened as the group attempted to walk across the ravine to their holiday home in L’Olleria in the Valencia region. Their bodies were found early last Friday morning, just over a mile downriver. Mr Cullen flew out to Valencia with his sons Daniel, 22, and Darren, 19, to be with his surviving daughter as she was treated at a local hospital. He and his wife had just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. He said: “It’s a blur, you don’t expect to lose two members of your family in one hit.” Last week’s torrential rain left several rivers in the east of the country running dangerously high and closed the ports of Valencia, Gandia and Sagunto. It also blocked roads and railway lines. Ferry links to Tangier and Ceuta were suspended because of storms.
A Barcelona company fired a woman worker last week for “unjustified absences from work” – as the woman lay in a coma in hospital. Sandra Tejero’s family immediately hired a lawyer who said he suspected the company – El Punt del Peix – was trying to wriggle out of having to pay her wages during what could turn out to be a long period of time. Sra Tejero fell off her motorbike three weeks ago on her way home from work. She suffered a punctured lung and the injury brought on a heart attack causing cerebral damage. The doctors said her life is not in danger but admit they have no idea how long she will be in a coma.
Around 500 health workers marched through the centre of Malaga last Thursday to protest a shortfall of 500 staff across the province – 200 doctors, and 300 nurses and administrative staff. They warned that the province’s health centres face a chaotic time this Christmas. They said services will have to be cut back and there will be delay in making appointments because the Andalucian Health Service has failed to cover the shortfall. The Comisiones Obreros (Workers Commissions) union spokesman, Rafael González, and other union leaders said waiting lists would soar as a result. They said that the Junta de Andalucia is denying there is a problem but the unions plan to hold a meeting in Sevilla ahead of making a decision on possible strike action in November. A Junta spokesman denied there were any cut-backs. He said the Junta’s objective was to stabilise employment in the health sector.
Workers who clean Malaga’s beach are used to finding all kinds of weird things but a group of them were surprised last week when they came across a funeral urn – which still had the ashes inside. They took it to the police who, thanks to the name inscribed on it, were able to discover that the ashes belonged to a woman and to trace one of her sons. He told them his 84-year-old father had been entrusted with the rite of scattering his wife’s ashes into the sea, as she had requested. Apparently the man took the urn to the beach and threw the whole thing into the water, ashes and all. But the sea decided to return it to the shore, hence the beach cleaners’ surprise last week.
Spain, Italy, Greece and Morocco have asked the UN Organisation for Education, Science and Culture – Unesco – to declare the so-called Mediterranean Diet a Non-material World Heritage. The final document, drawn up by the Mediterranean Diet Foundation, was presented to Unesco in Paris last week. The Mediterranean Diet is a set of practices, skills and knowledge developed by the Mediterranean peoples over the centuries which has contributed enormously to their longevity. Unesco is expected to hand down its verdict early next year.
The Junta de Andalucia presented its draft law for the right to a dignified death last week, which does not include what is referred to as “active” euthanasia that is, doctors will not be forced to help the patient die. However, when the law comes into force – towards the end of next year – patients will have the right to reject treatments aimed at prolonging their life, although they will be able to demand painkilling drugs. They will also have the right to ask for a comprehensible, detailed report of their illness in order to help them make the decision. When the patient is hospitalised, the family will have the right to ask for an individual room so that they can accompany their loved one to the end.
A British woman who lives in Ronda was rescued after disappearing for three days last week while visiting El Gestor in Cádiz province. The 53-year-old woman, identified only as R.M.B., slipped and fell while taking her morning walk last Tuesday. She eventually turned up last Thursday afternoon in Alto Algarán where she told the authorities that she had hit her head when she fell and became disoriented. She then stumbled into some bushes and lay there until the pain from a wound in her hip subsided, when she managed to drag herself to Alto Algarán. She said she had seen the helicopter that had been sent out to look for her but was unable to move to attract its attention. Rescuers with dogs had also combed the area where she disappeared without success.
A 20-year-old man was electrocuted when he put his head inside an electricity pylon opposite a club in Gandia, Valencia, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Firemen and medics tried to revive him but later said he had died instantly. At the time of going to press, police were still questioning witnesses about what the man’s motives could have been.