It is not easy as doctors who are employed in Primary Care centres confess to being “overwhelmed”, especially in Orihuela, one of the health areas with the highest number of cases of covid.

This is how Inmaculada Marín and Ruth Molera, the coordinators of the Oriolano health centres of Álvarez de la Riva and Rabaloche, describe the situation.

They describe the day to day schedules of these doctors as “chaotic,”  saying that they were already overloaded prior to the arrival of covid’s second wave. Now the situation is much worse.

“Every day we have between 70 and 80 patients to see and call and a further 300 to be followed up in one way or another,” states Inmaculada Marín, while her colleague refers to the healthcare pressure, “which has doubled in recent weeks. We have to continue seeing our patients who have illnesses that must be treated, but we are completely over run by the sheer weight of numbers, as there are no doctors.”

As such the pair demand the placement of more doctors to face the overload

They have even asked the Ministry of Health to impose penalties on those doctors who leave for “a crime against Public Health,” a request that is supported by José Gabriel Cano, director of Public Health of the departments of Orihuela and Torrevieja.

“Our health system at times like the present has proved insufficient due to the fact that the staff that make up the three levels of Health (Primary, Specialised and Public Health) have not been adequately supported in recent years, with inadequate pensions and uncompetitive salaries that have caused the emigration of many thousands of well-trained professionals to other countries. The poor situation that we have been in for many years now means there is no possibility of finding additional well trained doctors to help us out of the hole we now find ourselves to be in.”

In addition, he adds, this should be one of the main lessons that we draw from this pandemic: “planning for the future, we must invest more in the public health system that needs to be put in place in times of crisis”.  Also we need to “pay attention to the health authorities, as they are the ones with the greatest knowledge of the situation and its best management,” he emphasises. Stating that 70% of outbreaks have a social origin, he recommends reducing the number of people in meetings and additional ventilation of enclosed spaces.

In this sense, better coordination between the three levels of Health is essential. If Primary Care becomes saturated, it cannot follow up on the chains of infection, if Public Health overflows due to the increase in cases and is late in the application of preventive measures and quarantine, hospitals become full of admissions, many of them in ICU and the system collapses.

In the Orihuela area, the incidence per 100,000 inhabitants is 550.97, the highest figure since the start of the pandemic. In Torrevieja, the incidence is 118.53

For this reason, Marín and Molera say that at the moment, with the saturation of work, “if Primary Care collapses, we will be screwed. We are the gateway to the health system.

They ask their patients to be aware, respect and comply with sanitary regulations, be tolerant and, of course, value the work they are doing.

They ask that the authorities impose harsher penalties on those who skip isolation for “a crime against Public Health” and, as confirmed by a senior nurse in this area, “if the population does not comply, it goes from being the solution to being the problem”.