Spanish government puts private healthcare firms at the orders of the regions

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The Spanish government has decided to implement never-before-seen measures in terms of the country’s healthcare system, in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Speaking at a press conference on Sunday night, a day after the Cabinet approved a state of alarm that has confined Spaniards to their homes, Health Minister Salvador Illa announced that private health providers would be temporarily taken over and put at the disposition of the national healthcare system.

 

Regional health chiefs across Spain will, he added, have “all the means” necessary from the private system in order to deal with the epidemic. Illa added that “all public and private areas” will be available for conversion into new spaces to attend to patients.

Also on Sunday, the health minister announced that fourth-year medical students who are carrying out residencies will see their contracts extended. Rotations among medical staff have been suspended, and physicians who have not yet completed their specialty after passing their medical resident tests can now be hired. All of these measures are aimed at easing the pressure on the health system due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a bid to combat shortages, the government also announced on Sunday that any company that is holding or that can manufacture materials for making diagnoses, protective masks and glasses, gloves and other medical or pharmaceutical products, must make the authorities aware of this in 48 hours, under the threat of fines should they fail to do so.

The third and final measure announced on Sunday relates to the supply of information on the progress of the epidemic. Until now Spain’s regions – who are in charge of their own healthcare systems – have been sending updated figures on infections and deaths to the central government when they considered it convenient to do so, creating certain confusion at times during the crisis so far. From now on, Illa said on Sunday night, the data will be offered just once a day, only by the Health Ministry, at mid-morning.

Read more via El Pais

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