LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – Healthcare professionals in the Canary Islands are investigating whether they can legally exclude unvaccinated people from care.
According to the college of doctors in Las Palmas, there is no legal basis for this. The controversial idea has met with a lot of resistance.
The group promoting the initiative has been the target of insults and attacks from opponents of vaccines and testing. The coronavirus pandemic is not only a medical and scientific challenge; it also sparks legal, ethical and moral debates that end up in courts.
The obligation to present a covid passport to gain access to certain events or establishments, the obligation for staff in nursing homes to be vaccinated or the penalties for not wearing a mask are some examples.
Until now, however, no one has dared to propose that healthcare professionals could refuse to treat the un-vaccinated. Asamblea7islas dares. It brings together 11,000 healthcare workers in the Canary Islands who have asked the Ministry of Health to prepare a legal report examining the possibility of applying conscientious objection in these cases.
This has no precedent. Also, the College of Physicians of Las Palmas completely rules it out.
Asamblea7islas is the association that decided to “drop this bomb” and “raise the voice” for the “concern and cry” of health professionals who see “hospital wards and ICUs full of people who have not been vaccinated”. This is causing “delays in operations, increasing waiting lists and a continued high workload” that has not gone down since the pandemic began.
‘Response to annoyance and exhaustion of professionals’
The spokesperson for Asamblea7islas in Tenerife is Pablo León. He admits to El Confidencial that the position they have put forward is “powerful”. However, he confirms it responds to “the annoyance and exhaustion of the professionals”. “We are not against anyone,” he clarifies, but he demands respect because “it is as legitimate a position as that of the vaccine denials.”
He explains that since they made their point of view public, they have received calls from people who insult them and call them “murderers.” “Doctors from Madrid also called us to say that they were going to report us,” says León.
The spokesman for the meeting, which includes employees from 27 different job groups, assured they only want the government to explore the possibility of extending the conscientious objection clause to these cases. To do this, the association has requested a legal report from the Health Council of the Government of the Canary Islands. So far there is no response.
‘No doctor can reject a patient because of his ideas’
Pedro Cabrera Navarro, president of the Las Palmas professional college of doctors, cut off any aspirations for those who want to refuse care for a pandemic denier through moral or ideological approaches. “No doctor can reject a patient because of his ideas”.
Cabrera, points out that “ethical issues are the responsibility of the College, not the Ministry”. He also states that “no doctor can reject a patient because of his ideas”, as “this would be a serious ethical error”. “Anyone who has news of a case and has evidence of it should report it to the Ethics and Deontology Commission of the corresponding College of Physicians,” as “there are no conscientious objections in this case.”
The chairman of this appeal body emphasises that the cases in which a doctor can exercise the right to refuse treatment are defined by law, “as is the case with euthanasia”. He also points out there is no record of a doctor who can make any claim in this regard.
He sees little ground for the initiative as it moves along “the thin line that separates legality and morality”. However, he emphasises the healthcare professionals have dropped “a politically incorrect bomb” with which they aim to “reduce the burden of care and work pressure” .
Majority of resources to care Covid patients
This is because most of the health care funding goes to care for covid patients and non-urgent cancer treatments are being delayed. “If you really want to thank the work of all the Canarian health workers who care about their health progress during this pandemic, get yourself vaccinated,” Asamblea7islas wrote in a statement. They also state wards or ICUs hold up to “30 patients who have stated they refuse vaccines and do not believe in the pandemic.” Those beds are not accessible to patients with other pathologies who come to us.”
The fact is that in the Canary Islands, 80% of the population over the age of 12 is fully-vaccinated. There appears to be a high degree of vaccination willingness among the population.
“To this day, I have no evidence that a healthcare professional has refused to assist someone who has fallen ill with the coronavirus after failing to vaccinate,” the Asamblea7islas spokesperson confirmed. He states “a lot of health professionals” would rather not treat these patients because “failure to vaccinate is harmful to individual and collective health and can lead to death”.
Reasoning is flawed
The College of Physicians argues that such reasoning is flawed because it could also justify, for example, not treating smokers with pathologies as a result of their tobacco use. Similarly, drivers who get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and have an accident. “Where is the limit?”