Hiring in Primary Care hits a ceiling and double shifts skyrocket

Since November 22, there have been more positive cases of coronavirus that in the whole of the other 20 months of pandemic, for the variant omicron. This situation has put in check the Primary Care in Canary Islands that supports the weight of this sixth wave, with a staff depleted by the infections -more than 2,200 positives last December-. Given the impossibility of covering the low, due to the lack of professionals in the labor market, the number of health workers who have to double shifts to cope with the daily workload in the health centers -consultations, calls, diagnostic tests, IT management, treatments...-.

“The health centers already came with quite a significant pressure on care, but since the sixth wave began in early December, the incidence of Covid-19 cases has been brutal, and the health centers are the ones that are bearing the greatest workload, almost exclusively, considering that this variant has fewer serious cases, fortunately," said Miguel Díaz Barreiros, coordinator of Primary Care in Gran Canaria, about a situation that extends to the rest of the Islands due to the high incidence of infection in December and January.

The current picture of health centers, with few exceptions, is that of a scenario with a high level of saturation, with fewer professionals than normal, who bear an extra "brutal" workload due to the incidence of cases. «To try to cover the work, the professionals are turning, at least two or three times a week, and we have been like this throughout December and January, which means that they are getting more and more tired».

Díaz Barreiros insists that the problem has worsened due to the lack of professionals to replace casualties. All available health personnel have been hired, adapting and diversifying profiles to the required tasks. Jobs have been adapted and the implementation of the Special Plan has allowed professionals willing to work reinforcing, with complementary remuneration, to do so.

«Right now in Primary Care all the medical and nursing professionals that we could hire, we have already done so, there are no more in the labor market. Therefore, we do not have to replace staff who get sick, which means that their colleagues, who were already tired beforehand, have to double up, see more patients than usual. You have to do puzzles to try to cover all the work ».

The average time to wait for a face-to-face medical appointment already exceeds seven days


The coordinator of Primary Care in Gran Canaria pointed out in this regard that, for example, a doctor's office, which previously attended 35 or 40 patients a day, now supports between 50 and 60 patients. “And when he finishes he has to turn, either because a colleague is missing, or because of the great demand in the health center due to the incidence of Covid. Which can mean seeing between 80 and 90 patients a day. You can do that one day, but not one after the other,” he stresses.

Although the majority of Covid cases are mild, each patient requires care and monitoring, in addition to the bureaucratic burden that is generated and the management of sick leave. The population's fear of the coronavirus, together with the saturation of the Covid telephone line of the Government of the Canary Islands, means that many people go to the emergency room of health centers, even to request information, which aggravates the work overload .

In this scenario, the average time for a face-to-face appointment with the family doctor at the health center is greater than seven days; and although the telephone consultation is less, the delay time has also increased.

Automated temporary disabilities apply to a third of claimants


Faced with this situation, a contingency plan and new organizational measures have been put in place, including the creation of a centralized Covid agenda per health center. “All the patients who test positive daily with antigen tests in hospitals or in our centers, and the people who call the 900 line who have taken the test on their own and it has come back positive, we include them in that agenda that It is not specific to a doctor, and we make an appointment with them in the health centers that are organized so that, throughout the day, the different professionals can attend to these patients and most of the time it is a double shift».

To this is added the automated cancellation system, in order to help alleviate the bureaucratic burden of IPs (temporary disabilities). "This resource is being applied to a third of the people who need an IP, and sometimes you have to rectify it, but it helps."

There has also been a change in the protocol with prioritization of the vulnerable and validity of the pharmacy test; reinforcement of line 900 112 061 has been requested, which has been progressively provided with new posts; in addition to activating the notification of results and recommendations via SMS to positives and close contacts...

However, Díaz Barreiro sends a message to the population so that everyone can help improve the situation. "The keys are patience and information - I recommend canariasaludable.org-. If they have mild symptoms compatible with Covid, they must isolate themselves and calmly contact the health center or the 900 line where they will be treated and given instructions, if not the first day, then the second or third. If we achieve that, we would be able to alleviate the workload, detect serious cases and, in the end, calmly, everyone will be treated," he concludes.

Concentration on February 14

Nursing and Physiotherapy staff will meet on February 10 to denounce the "serious" situation of deterioration and precariousness that exists in the health centers of the archipelago and to demand that the Canarian government "do not continue to abandon" Primary Care. The concentration has been convened by the Satse nursing union, which in a statement demands urgent and effective measures from the regional executive to improve the health care and care that citizens receive. A call that the union makes for all the health centers of the provincial capitals in the Canary Islands, and for all of Spain. It is the beginning of his strategy to denounce the "serious deterioration" of the health system and demand improvements in the professional and working conditions of nurses, nurses and physiotherapists. Satse denounces that there is a structural and chronic shortage of nurses, nurses and physiotherapists, lack of means and resources, overload and continuous care tension or the closure of centers are the main problems that the Covid crisis has aggravated and that "entail that people must wait days or weeks to be seen in person. | Eph

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