Saturday, July 24

Two secret meetings and a Hotmail to erase the trace of a very good grade in the Basque Health examinations

The opposition Thais Salas had about 25 failures in an exam of about 100 questions of Plastic Surgery that the Basque Health Service (Osakidetza) carried out within the great opposition of medical specialties of 2018. What is striking is that in half of the questionnaire that prepared by his father-in-law, Dr. Alfredo Martínez Flórez, had just two failures and that, in the other half, reached the approved scraping. All in all, it was the best grade and no one among the twenty opponents was surprised by the result. There are voices that have been warning for years that it is “common knowledge” in the largest Basque company that medical places are previously determined through selective leaks.

The report used by Basque Health to deny evidence of leaks in the oppositions did not analyze all the data

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However, an alert was raised in an office and mobilized two high-ranking officials of the Basque Administration. One was the then director of Human Resources at Osakidetza, Juan Carlos Soto, already dismissed for the incident. The second was (and is) the secretary general of the Basque Institute of Public Administration (IVAP), Fulgencio Aledo. Precisely the Basque Health system outsourced the preparation of part of the tests to the IVAP to guarantee the cleanliness of the process, but since it does not have specialist doctors, it ended up asking Osakidetza to choose who was going to ask the questions. Soto and Aledo summoned Salas and Martínez Flórez right there, in the building in Vitoria where the exam was carried out. They made them see how striking what happened and they suggested that if the doctor waived the note there would be no disciplinary consequences and everything would stay at home.

48 hours after the exam, the matter was still not resolved. And Soto and Aledo called Martínez Flórez to travel from Donostia, where he is stationed, to the Osakidetza headquarters in Vitoria. Again, they made the same approach. And this time they agreed, since Salas sent an email to Aledo informing him of the resignation. He did it from a personal Hotmail account and not from corporate channels. Aledo, without further verification, accepted it as good and immediately forwarded it to the head of Human Resources. The name of the opponents was removed from the list and her note disappeared.

This is the reconstruction carried out by the LAB union of the testimonies of witnesses and defendants who have passed this week by the Vitoria court that investigates fraud in those oppositions. Like ESK, LAB exercises popular prosecution. The complaint of Plastic Surgery reached the ears of the investigators from the opponents themselves once this case was initiated due to the irregularities already known in Anesthesia, Digestive or Angiology, among other examinations. The pattern is that opponents related to the authors of the questions -mainly because they work in the same hospital- obtained the best marks, in some cases perfect when the exercises were of high difficulty. On Tuesday Aledo declared as a witness and this Thursday, as defendants, Salas, Martínez Flórez and two other members of the court.

According to LAB’s lawyer, Iñigo Santxo, his delegate in Osakidetza, Jesús Oñate, and the person in charge of Public Services, Eider Casanova, having known these facts has been a “stroke of luck”. In the internal investigation carried out by the Basque Health Service itself, nothing of these meetings and communications was recorded. The counselor himself in 2018, Jon Darpon, assured that there were no anomalies in Plastic Surgery. And the general director of Osakidetza, María Jesús Múgica, added: “The file concludes that the court has acted at all times in accordance with the terms of the call. The court’s actions have guaranteed objectivity ”.

The key testimony that uncovered these events was that of Aledo, on Tuesday. He appeared as a witness, that is, with the obligation to answer all questions and to tell the truth. In his statement – always according to LAB’s version – he stated that Múgica “ordered” them to “fix” what happened to Soto and him. What is striking is that this senior official had already appeared on two previous occasions. One in the internal investigation and another also as a witness in court. He had never recounted these facts. It alleges that “it did not consider that they had sufficient entity.” This newspaper has tried to know the version of the aforementioned, but has chosen not to comment while the matter is prosecuted, according to IVAP sources. Neither Múgica when he witnessed, an appearance whose photograph was stolen from the media because he had the help of Ertzaintza agents to slip away.

LAB: “Osakidetza’s dedicated himself to covering up the evidence”

Salas and Martínez Flórez, in their capacity as defendants, have the right not to answer, not to incriminate themselves and even to lie. In exercising this prerogative, they did not respond to LAB’s questions about these events, but they did admit at the request of the representative of the Prosecutor’s Office in the interrogation that the meetings, at least, existed. Of course, they reject that the leaks occurred. LAB remarks that there are no minutes of any of that, so it assumes that it was decided to “hide” it. “[Osakidetza] He dedicated himself to covering up the most striking evidence and hiding it until the scandal jumped to public opinion. In short, it did what it had been doing in all the PEOs, neutralize the complaints ”.

It so happens that in June and July 2018, when the case was reported to the media, the then Health Minister Jon Darpon used to repeat that there were no “objective elements” to prove the allegations of leaks. Moreover, he criticized the fact that “pools” were made before a notary – Elkarrekin Podemos and ESK predicted who would get a place in some exams – without previously giving the internal alert to Osakidetza to stop what was happening. However, the Darpon team not only knew about the Plastic Surgery case but also held another meeting on those same dates with a member of the Cardiology exam who had been warning of irregularities for weeks, Ángel Loma-Osorio, without any detachment from it. performance. In addition, in a third specialty, in Traumatology, part of the court met unofficially at the Astoria hotel in Donostia (now Zinema7) to adjust the correction criteria.

In this context, LAB wants the list of defendants to be expanded beyond the current eleven. He wants Soto and Aledo and their superiors, Múgica in Osakidetza and, in the case of IVAP, Maite Iruretagoyena to be summoned as such. It so happens that she left office precisely at the end of June, something that the union attributes to these events but that the Government denies. It will also demand the prosecution of Pilar Uriarte, currently responsible for Health Human Resources for not having collaborated with the investigation. In addition, he insists on accusing the Basque Health dome, including Darpon, of “illicit association” for having organized an OPE “tailored so that there would be leaks.”

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