In the middle of the second wave of the pandemic, nine Soria doctors left the province to take over at other centers in Castilla y León. Among them, a doctor from Berlanga de Duero, who was consulting in various towns in the area. Barcones, of 25 inhabitants, was one of them. Last Tuesday a nurse went to the municipality and placed a poster in the City Hall, informing the neighbors that due to lack of personnel, consultations were suspended, and that from now on they would attend them by phone. The problem? In Barcones there is no mobile coverage and the landline has not worked for two weeks.
Carlos Muñoz, the mayor, explains the situation with amazement: “They tell us to call by phone, but there is no phone.” He criticizes that they did not notify him that they were going to be without a doctor in advance and that he could not expose the situation of telephone coverage to find an alternative. The Barcones population is aged, over 70 years. “Many need to go to take their blood pressure or to be prescribed the pills,” he says. The closest health center is 25 kilometers away and not all residents have a vehicle to get around.
The connection problem comes from afar. Two years ago, after a snowfall, they were held incommunicado for 20 days. Telefónica argues that there are some trees that interfere with the repeater signal that serves the town, “but they are trees that have been there for a long time,” so the mayor does not quite believe the company. “They have not told us a clear reason or explanation.” The company, according to the mayor, has an open file in which it was given 45 days to restore service and improve conditions by installing a radio link. And while, the neighbors are still waiting.
As a patch, the company has provided them with a satellite phone, which is malfunctioning and takes several minutes – sometimes hours – to connect. Neighbors who have mobile phones, like Muñoz, have an alternative: walk more than a kilometer until they find coverage. The councilor criticizes the inaction of the Board and the promises that remain on paper, such as the file with the telephone company. “Every year their mouths are filled saying that there will be coverage and connection, but it never comes,” he denounces. “The towns continue to be depopulated, health care is getting worse and paid politicians do not care.”