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Covid-19 exposed Madrid’s primary healthcare critical situation

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El Pais reports that numbers don’t tell the whole story of the dramatic situation facing Madrid’s understaffed primary healthcare professionals as they try to cope with a second Covid-19 wave.

Doctors on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus are seeing over 80 patients on average during a single shift, according to unions.

Their efforts are aimed at making up for a shortage of 600 family physicians and 150 pediatricians in the region, according to the same sources.

But they are being stretched to the limit, as the pandemic forces them to deal with lines of patients who show up without an appointment, inside buildings that are often old and lacking natural light or proper ventilation.

Doctors on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus are seeing over 80 patients on average during a single shift, according to unions.

The main union representing primary care doctors in Madrid, Amyts, has called an indefinite strike starting on September 28.

Primary care is overwhelmed,” summed up Jesús Redondo, a family doctor at the Ramón y Cajal healthcare center. “When the state of alarm was lifted, it looked like we might get a break, but it wasn’t the case. At that point, our staff numbers went down as some people took vacations and others requested leaves. Between late June and now, [the workload] has been growing nonstop, in precarious conditions.”

“The pressure keeps increasing,” agreed Salvador Casado, a family doctor in Soto del Real. “I used to be able to end my work day and tune out until the next day. But not any more. That’s how stressed I am … some colleagues tell me ‘I’m scared of going in tomorrow.’”

The problems that already existed in March have been compounded by the fact that many healthcare professionals caught the virus.

Madrid is also one of the regions with the worst primary-doctor-to-patient and nurse-to-patient ratios in the country.

It spends the least on public healthcare, and its professionals are third from last on the salary scale, according to national statistics released by the Health Ministry.

El Pais

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