The joint pressure of the directors of the health centers – almost a hundred had already joined – has led to the rectification of the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso. These professionals threatened with a cascade of resignations if the Ministry of Health did not back down and gave them back the powers to allow doubling of doctors’ days to cover the losses of other health workers.
These professionals – who in turn are doctors and also undergo consultation – made public a statement on Tuesday in which they defined themselves as “disabled” and “suspended in office” after the Ministry of Health suppressed overnight the substitutions of medical leave from health centers to save the extra hours paid to the health workers who perform them by doubling their shifts. The measure would cause many outpatient clinics that are already over-staffed to “collapse.”
The care manager of Primary Care, Sonia Martínez, has responded this Wednesday to the pressure from the health centers with a letter addressed to the directors, which El País has advanced and to which elDiario.es has had access, to inform them that they were marching back with respect to the communications that were made verbally days ago. In it, Martínez assures that this tool for doubling the days continues since it is intended “to preserve sufficient assistance capacity in the health center.” “It allows you to cover absences whose management you coordinate in a decentralized way as center directors for which, having considered it necessary, it has not been possible to hire a substitute physician”, he adds.
The reason for the new battle that had raised the health center directors in arms occurred a few days ago. The health care directorates of areas – dependent on the Primary Care Management of the Ministry of Health – verbally communicated to these professionals the change in the rules for the coverage of absences of doctors and pediatricians in their outpatient clinics, which in some cases are in critical condition due to lack of personnel. In this way, the Ministry ordered the suppression of the substitutions that have occurred in recent months among the toilets of the health centers and that consisted of doubling the shift to replace a companion on sick leave, four-hour shifts that were paid as overtime to 200 euros and that helped this summer, for example, to cover the vacations of many health workers.
The war between the Primary Care health workers and the Community of Madrid is not new and has intensified in recent months. It rains in the wet and reports of understaffing have been a constant since before the pandemic. The latest plan presented by the Ministry of Health to improve primary attendance –200 million in two years– has not convinced the unions, who see the proposal as insufficient. “There is a structural deficit of 1,800 toilets at the moment and they say that they are going to hire 1,200, that does not even cover the almost 1,500 that will retire in the next few years,” the unions denounce.
While the structural deficit of health workers continues, only 17 doctors of the 224 who finished the family specialty last summer in the Community of Madrid stayed to work in the Madrid health sector because other regions offer better conditions. The direct consequence is that the closure of the Primary Care emergency services (SUAP) continues more than 500 days later.