Primary care in Spain in protest against major staff shortages

by Lorraine Williamson
primary care staff

MADRID – “We are going to save primary care”, is the slogan with which 115 social organisations and trade unions have called on their members to protest. Primary care urgently needs more staff and better management. 

The current situation, according to the initiators of the demonstration, is one of “deterioration and collapse” that has dragged on for 15 years. Consequently, this could lead to the complete disappearance of the first level of health care. 

See also: Primary care Spain back to normal with even fewer staff 

300 people gathered in Madrid, according to figures provided by the municipality. The protesters walked from the Ministry of Health to Puerta del Sol. Meanwhile, they shouted slogans like “Primary care will always be needed” or “Care, public”. Banners read “More healthcare professionals, desperately needed” or “Your health centre is in grave danger!” 

Different management of primary care 

The CCOO general secretary said action is urgently needed to expand the health care budget, hire more health personnel and change the way primary care is managed. 

On average 6 days waiting for a consultation 

“It cannot be the case that the average waiting time for an appointment is six days and that 35% of people do not receive their consultation until more than a week later. “Primary care must go back to how it was: that 80% of the health problems there will be resolved,” said the general secretary. 

Closing the gap between the cuts 

According to the organisations that have called for the strike, the healthcare budget should be expanded to cover 25% of the total healthcare budget. The gap left by the austerity measures of recent years would then be more or less compensated. 

Helped within 48 hours is the goal 

Furthermore, the ultimate goal is that people who make an appointment will be helped within a maximum of 48 hours. Moreover, the current situation is unacceptable. According to the organisations, primary care is a critical point for the functioning of the health care system as a whole. 

Major differences between regions in health care expenditure 

Healthcare in Spain falls under the management of the autonomous regions. Therefore, this means that there are major differences between those regions. Extremadura, for example, spends €272.48 per inhabitant on this portfolio. Then follows the Basque Country with €267.84, and Castilla y León with €262.45 per inhabitant. On the side of the regions that spend the least per inhabitant on health care, we find Madrid with €150.08, the Balearic Islands with €174.05, and Galicia with €188.16. 

Therefore, the additional investment in primary care should be shared equally between the autonomous regions and the central government. Madrid should also take into account the population in each region. 

More doctors and nurses needed 

According to the initiators of the event, all efforts must be aimed at increasing the number of healthcare professionals. Currently, there are 8,000 general practitioners and 15,000 nurses. 

Demonstrations were also held in other parts of Spain, such as Zaragoza, Valencia, the Canary Islands, and the Balearic Islands. 

See also: Half of the nurses in Spain are considering dismissal since the pandemic 

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