Sunday, July 3

The lack of ambulances forces a patient to be transferred on a stretcher through the streets of a town in Pontevedra

The lack of ambulances in the Pontevedra municipality of O Rosal has meant that last Friday the toilets had to transfer a patient on a stretcher through the streets of the town. The man, according to the O Rosal, A Guarda and Oia Public Health Defense Platforms, needed urgent care, but there were no vehicles available for him: the only doctor in the local health center had had to go out accompanying a patient in the ambulance at the Álvaro Cunqueiro hospital in Vigo. When this emergency arrived, a retired doctor was in the facilities, hired for administrative work -within the Xunta’s plan to lighten the load in primary care-, not to take care of patients.

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Given the man’s condition and the lack of ambulances, the Galician Health Service (Sergas) sent a helicopter based in Ourense, but to take the man from the medical center to the area where the aircraft landed, it was necessary to remove him on a stretcher through the streets of O Rosal. According to the platforms, workers from 061 and from the health center took him for about 230 meters. At the same time, they add, there was another emergency in A Guarda that also required an ambulance.

The platforms denounce what happened and point out that it highlights the shortcomings of public health in the region. The number of care ambulances, they criticize, is “insufficient”, there is no medicalized ambulance and there is a “lack of health personnel”. They recall that in some emergencies the response time “can be crucial to save life or minimize sequelae”.

Health workers in the region have also issued a statement expressing their “concern” about what happened. “We understand that it is undignified for a person to be publicly exposed to the point of being manually moved around town due to lack of means,” they recriminate. So far this month, the helicopter has had to go to the Baixo Miño region four times, something they consider “speaks of the insufficient provision of resources.” The O Rosal health center, they point out, has three positions for family doctors, but there is only one professional working there.