It has been revealed that a 12-year-old boy from Extremadura, who had his foot severed in an accident, had to wait 80 minutes in the Hospital Universitario Infanta Cristina in Badajoz on Sunday to see if the Hospital Virgen del Rocío in Seville would admit him to have his foot reattached.
In the end, the hospital in Seville refused to operate on the boy, who then had to be transferred by helicopter to the Hospital de La Paz in Madrid, where the operation was carried out successfully.
The incident has caused a bitter argument between the health authorities in Extremadura and those in Andalusia, with each accusing the other of using the child as a political tool.
The health authorities in Extremadura claim that the hospital in Seville - the nearest specialist centre capable of carrying out the operation - "was evasive and made excuses" not to treat the child, whose foot had been severed by a harvesting machine.
The Andalusian authorities, for their part, have rejected the criticism, maintaining that their decision not to admit the child for surgery was a "clinical decision" and was not conditioned by any other crriteria.
The accident ocurred on a farm in Zarza de Alange (Badajoz) at around 10.30am on Sunday. A helicopter picked the injured child up at the farm and delivered him to the Hospital Infanta Cristina in Badajoz (pictured) at 12.19pm.
The Badajoz hospital assessed the possibility of reattaching the foot, which was "morphologically undamaged" and contacted the National Transplant Organisation (ONT), which gave them the details of the nearest team suitable to carry out the operation. The ONT recommended the child be sent to the Virgen del Rocío in Seville or La Paz in Madrid, 56 minutes and one hour 35 minutes away by helicopter respectively.
The authorities in Extremadura have complained that after a number of calls to various different surgeons at the Virgen del Rocío, they were told they couldn't accept the child at the Seville hospital "citing all sorts of excuses and problems".
Once the Seville hospital had said no, doctors in Badajoz contacted the Hospital La Paz en Madrid, and were told to send the child over immediately "without wasting any time on complicated explanations".
Finally, the medical helicopter, which had been on standby ever since it landed at the first hospital, took off for La Paz at 13.37 hours, arriving in Madrid at 15.25 hours. After a long wait, the boy's foot was successfully reattached