In a new direct Brexit spinoff, authorities at the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar have confirmed that routine patients may henceforth be ferried for treatment to Spanish hospitals only if their ambulances are staffed by Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) employees who live in Spain or by EU nationals, it was reported.
Gibraltar authorities said Friday they were extremely concerned over the issue, which gained notoriety after their ambulances and paramedics were being denied entry at the border.
“There will be an exception made for emergency patients in 'life or death' situations, when GHA staff resident in Gibraltar will be able to carry out the transfer, on the basis that prior warning is given and evidence of the condition of the patient is provided,” the local Government said.
“The same rules have been applied to St John Ambulance even though this is a charity largely manned by volunteers not by employees and evidently also not a commercial operation,” the authorities went on.
The Government added is also another urgent and important issue with the transfer of platelets from Spain, as Gibraltar relies on Jerez who supplies platelets when required in an emergency. “In the past, these have been couriered to La Linea and then collected by GHA Ambulance to transfer to St Bernard’s Hospital,” the Government said.
Under the new geopolitical scenario, Gibraltar ambulances need to be driven by GHA staff that resides in Spain. “In addition to this, they will need a Spanish contract of employment and this will also apply to everyone within the ambulance with the exception of the patient,” the Government added.
“Spanish Ambulances to carry out routine transfers to and from Spain will have no issue unless Gibraltar stops them from operating. This one of the contingencies at present while the issue is resolved.”
“St John Ambulance to carry out routine transfers to and from Spain will have to be done by their staff that resides in Spain. In addition to this, they will need a Spanish contract of employment and this will also apply to everyone within the ambulance with the exception of the patient.”
“Spain will only allow GHA staff resident in Gibraltar to convey a patient to Spain if it is a matter of life or death, the clinician in the ambulance (Paramedic or Doctor) provides evidence on the condition of the patient, and this will also have to be done with prior warning to the frontier Spanish authorities.”
“Given that the issue at stake is the health of citizens, and the potential for life or death situations to emerge, the Government is extremely concerned at these developments and has already raised the matter at a higher level both with the United Kingdom and with Spain.”