The deputies of the Emergency Service of the Infanta Sofía Hospital in San Sebastian de los Reyes have sent their colleagues a “letter of help” in which they denounce the “devastating situation that the emergency is experiencing due to the extreme lack of medical personnel.” A writing in which “the remaining attachments” recount precarious conditions in a hospital center that last June already suffered the collapse of this service.
The emergencies of Madrid hospitals collapse: “This is what happens if you close health centers and mistreat primary care”
“We can no longer physically or mentally and despite our strenuous efforts we are not being able to carry out our work as we have been doing, which, back in 2012, was the reason for the award for the best Emergency in Madrid,” the letter begins. These professionals regret that the message that they are “badly organized” has permeated the rest of the hospital workers, and they go on to recount the decisions of the Ministry of Health that have led to this situation.
On the one hand, the deputies of the service denounce the lack of personnel. “Since the opening we have 28 staff assistants, in comparison with our sister hospital, the Infanta Leonor, which has reached 39 (according to the organic staff of the community of Madrid). With the COVID contracts after the pandemic, our urgency has gone to 31 deputies (3 contracts) and the Infanta Leonor (17 contracts) to 56”, they allege.
Precisely, these professionals point out that the COVID crisis has meant having one less deputy on duty. “For three years, given the shortage of personnel, apart from having to do a minimum of 2 weekends a month for the entire staff, the positions of these guards are always filled with one less deputy and on ordinary days there is a gap per minimum shift”, they allege. Some conditions that affect the quality of care for patients, who are increasing more and more.
The saturation of the emergencies in this center, which has also been denounced in other different workers, responds to a lack of health professionals. But not only. These doctors mention the closure of the 37 Primary Care Emergency Services (SUAP), which the Community of Madrid closed due to the pandemic. These resources were open at night, on weekends and on holidays and in many cases they involved a first screening that discharged to hospitals. They also have influenced, they say, the decline of Primary Care, which workers have been denouncing for years.
Although the worst of the pandemic has passed, the seventh wave of coronavirus has been felt in hospital emergencies. “We have attended to the bottom so that no patient was left unattended,” they say. The numbers that they collect in that letter show an increase in attention of more than 38%. “To serve as an example, in the period from June 1 to 20, 2018, 6,751 emergencies were attended and in the same period of 2022, 9,338 were attended,” they affirm.
“With all these conditions and the increasingly strenuous shifts,” they continue, “there has been a massive flight of professionals from ours to other emergencies with better contracts, the possibility of other activities that do not only contemplate piecework assistance activity or simply with more staff and residents.” Specifically, these doctors list an average care of 60 stretchers per day for acute patients; some 350 outpatient visits, which can reach peaks of 600 in waves; extreme emergency care; and increasingly prevalent protocols, such as monkeypox and COVID in immunosuppressed patients.
With this panorama, the Infanta Sofía arrives at the summer. “During the entire month of July and it seems that it will be in August, we are doing weekend shifts with between 2 and 5 assistants where there should be 9 to cover the Emergency”, she denounces. These situations make them feel “overwhelmed”. “There are several deputies on leave, others who have had to seek care in the psychic care program for the sick doctor” of the College of Physicians, and “others have simply resigned their contract this month.”
In the letter, the doctors allege that “the Medical Directorate and the Human Resources Directorate of this hospital have been notified on multiple occasions through different letters and meetings.” “We have met several times since May with the medical management and they show verbal support, but they do nothing,” they lament.