Concern among psychologists about the lack of information about the suicide prevention telephone line



Absolute confusion in the field of psychology about how 024 will be managed, the helpline for people with risk of suicidal behavior that will start to be operational within three monthsas published this Thursday by the Official State Gazette (BOE). For now, it is known that the technological part has been awarded to the company through a smaller contract with a value of 14,921.49 euros. Evolution Cloud Enabler, which will be limited to processing calls through a voice network. It remains to be seen which entity callers will be awarded the care service. The psychologists consulted by THE NEWSPAPER OF SPAINa newspaper belonging to the same editorial group as this medium, are shown "very worried" due to the lack of transparency and the delays in starting up a line that, they say, should be a priority.

The 024 call center -the free and anonymous short number attributed by the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures at the helpline service for people with risk of suicidal behavior will be geographically located in the Madrid's community. The operation of the help line will begin once three months have elapsed since the publication this Thursday in the BOE and, from that moment (at the beginning of May), all telephone operators will have the obligation to route calls to the designated operator, in this case the company Evolution Cloud Enabler.

As stated in the Public Sector Contracting Platformthe General Directorate of Public health, Quality and Innovation has awarded this company the 'Service of routing and delivery of telephone calls of the 024 service', with an estimated value of the contract of 14,921.49 euros. It is, therefore, a minor contract, that is, for an amount less than €15,000.

a voice network

EL PERIÓDICO DE ESPAÑA has contacted the company to find out what their role will be once they have been assigned the line. "We are not the right people to give explanations about the 024 service, since is still defining and the only information that we can share right now is that it is the Evolutio voice network that will process those calls", they indicate from this technology company based in Madrid.

Calls being routed over the voice network refers to the transmission of traffic over Internet-based networks rather than traditional telephone networksFernando Chacón, vice president of the General advice of Official Colleges of Psychologists (COP). What he adds is a lower amount of the award. That's why it's a minor contract, because it is cheaper.

Fernando Chacón gives an example: when the pandemic, in March 2020the collegiate body launched, together with the Ministry of Healtha hotline to provide psychological support (an initiative that would later be replicated, both at regional and municipal level, in different territories). The activity was carried out through three different telephone numbers, addressed to specific population groups, which the COP itself was in charge of contracting. "In the case of the voice network, it is cheaper because the call is paid by the receiver", indicates the vice president of the COP.

The next steps of the Government

From then on, both Chacón and the rest of the psychologists consulted show your great concern What steps will the government take? That is, once it is already awarded the technology that will carry the lineWhen will the public tender be formalized? for awarding to the entity that, really, will be at the forefront of such a delicate service. The deadlines are tight, because the Executive intends that the telephone - which has already been delayed in its launch since President Pedro Sánchez announced its creation last October - be operational in the month of May.

"There is no transparency. The company that is going to provide support is known, but it is not known if those who will answer the calls will be psychologists or telemarketers," criticizes a psychologist

"there is no transparency. The company that is going to provide support is known, but it is not even known whether those who will answer the calls will be psychologists or telemarketers. And it has us very worried. We are very concerned about the accompaniment that is going to be given to these people, when it should be a matter of maximum importance," he adds. Luis Fernando Lopez Martinezmember of the study and research group of suicidal behavior of the College of Psychologists of Madrid.

A number that is still inoperative

"Now you have to leave the award of the technical part. It is very good administratively that the adjudication of the technological part is published in the BOE, but it indicates that they are more aware of administrative processes than of the users who continue to call to a number that is not operational. What is not understood is why it is not done in parallel and they have not already called the competition to see who will provide the service," continues Fernando Chacón.

"If in the end you award the service to the cheapest offer, it will be the one that pays its professionals the least", warns the vice president of the COP

It is in this aspect, it is where the vice president of the COP is most critical. "The fundamental expense of this new contract that they must make is that of personnel and, for a health service like this, it is an aberration to rule by economic criteria. If in the end you award the service to the cheapest offer, it will be the one that pays its professionals the least and to see what type of training you are going to get. I don't know what requirements they are going to ask for, for that you need to see the specifications and see what agreement applies to those workers, for example if it is the telemarketers or it is the health field".

"What seems clear is that they are not going to be specialists in clinical psychology, nor is it going to be something integrated into the National Health System," they say from ANPIR

"What seems clear is that professionals are not going to be specialists in clinical psychology, nor is it going to be something integrated into the National Health System. Will have to see what coordination and communication programs pose to guarantee face-to-face care and continuity of care with the 17 public health services", indicates Javier Prado Abril, spokesman for the National Association of Clinical and Resident Psychologists (ANPIR).



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