The management of the Torrevieja health department have claimed that the collapse suffered by the emergency department at the hospital is only “temporary” and due to “the lack of professionals, after the resignation of some of the doctors who provided their services at the centre”.
They do not quantify how many have resigned since 15 October, since Ribera Salud lost the contract to run the hospital, returning it to public management, and point out that the substitution of doctors without specialty, which they say is the background of this situation, “has not been possible, since it would constitute an irregularity against current regulations”.
The management had to face a barrage of criticism and public complaints from the works council, doctors from the hospital itself, and patients, about the saturation of the A & E Department on Wednesday and Thursday, with 36 patients pending admission, delays in the waiting room after prioritisation of more than 15 hours, and delayed tests, also due to lack of personnel, with, at tims, a single doctor left looking after the entire emergency department.
The management said that with current regulations a doctor without a recognised specialty can occupy positions of primary care physician, primary care paediatrician and emergency doctor, “as long as there is no other doctor with a specialty available.” The same source “regrets that many doctors have decided to terminate their contractual relationship despite the fact that their employment continuity is guaranteed.”
Twenty of the 27 doctors in the emergency service are non-specialised physicians. An employment situation that Ribera Salud did not report in its fifteen years of concession, and which was not audited by health department. At least five of them have left the service since October.
“Due to this circumstance,” said the department’s management, the Hospital’s Medical Director “took over the emergency department in person, with the direct support of specialists from the orthopaedic surgery and traumatology services, general surgery, cardiology and ophthalmology, reinforced with internal medicine practitioners, with the aim of alleviating the pressure on care” and solve the “difficult situation that the emergency department is experiencing.” Thus, in the opinion of the centre’s management, “the adequate provision of the service has been guaranteed at all times.” Yesterday the emergency service “was adequate, providing urgent assistance and managing to restore normal response times.”
Santiago Diéguez took over as the new head of emergencies at the hospital. Diéguez has more than 16 years of experience in emergency services and has said that “we are going to work in a coordinated manner to regain confidence and motivate the team in the face of the changes that are taking place, we are working on attracting new doctors who wish to join this project”, he said.
The Partido Popular regional deputy for Alicante and health spokesman, José Juan Zaplana, denounced the “abandonment” of the service.
Zaplana stated that “health workers themselves have asked the public to find another alternative centre as far as possible due to the situation of the hospital. Of four doctors who should be in the emergency room right now there are only two”.
“There are no doctors to attend emergencies, patients under observation stay because they have not received radiological tests, cancer treatments have been suspended. It is time to seriously think about changing the management of the centre”, he said.
According to the Regional Government, the casualty department has employed four new medical specialists since 15 October and increased the number of consultations within the healthcare system, reinforcing consultations with specialists from the orthopaedic surgery services and traumatology, general surgery, cardiology, paediatrics, and ophthalmology.
In addition, despite the problems this week, they say the portfolio of services in general has been improved, with a greater endowment of both the paediatric service, as well as the laboratory service, with the provision of a new procedure for performing rapid PCR tests.
Regarding the staffing of nursing professionals, the management of the centre found a deficient service in the structure of nursing professionals, with only 21 nurses and many uncovered posts. At this time, the structure of staff dependent on the nursing department has increased notably, from 36 to 49 nurses and from 22 to 30 auxiliary technicians in nursing care.
The management of the centre wanted to send a message of calm to the population. In this sense, he met this week with department heads to convey the situation of the service, guaranteeing that “the safety of patients and professionals has in no case been compromised as a consequence of this temporary circumstance that will be resolved in the shortest possible time “, in the words of the manager, Pilar Santos.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón, met with the representatives of the Business Committee of the Torrevieja health department, led by its president, Ana Linares, in which they explained the healthcare problems that the hospital is suffering, especially the emergency department, which they say is “totally saturated due to lack of medical personnel.”
The mayor showed his outrage at the “extreme seriousness” of the situation and the position in which the emergency department finds itself. For Dolón, this situation is “unsustainable” because “we have gone from having a national reference hospital with a high quality of care to becoming a centre in which the lack of care to its users has become its hallmark”.