Social network pages are full of complaints, even from hospital doctors themselves, about the disastrous management at the Torrevieja Hospital, less than 9 months after Ana Barcelo, Minister of Health at the time, removed the old concessionaire, Ribera Salud, taking it into public control.
But now, following months of criticism from both patients and healthcare professionals about the failings, the Health Department has launched what it is calling a “Shock Plan” to try and bring the levels of service back up to what they once were.
The Management, the Medical Directorate and the new care managers of the emergency service met at the centre with Mónica Almiñana, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, and Enrique Soler, Deputy Director General of Integrated Care, with the aim of designing the structure of this Shock Plan that will enter into force immediately.
The meeting defended how recently, the Emergency Department of the Hospital incorporated a new Head of Service and a Head of Section, in addition to reinforcing the service in all its professional areas and increasing the hours and staffing of specialists in all the six Continuous Care Points (PACs), hosted at local medical centres, PAC La Loma, PAC Guardamar del Segura, PAC Pilar de la Horadada, PAC Orihuela Costa, PAC Rojales and PAC de San Miguel de Salinas
Since bringing the health authority back into public management, they stated that the workforce has risen from 1,043 to 1,793 staff, which represents an increase of 58%, and which, they state, guarantees 100% care coverage for the population in key services such as emergencies, primary care, and hospitalisation.
In addition, the second floor of the centre will now remain open at full capacity, something that has not been the case in previous years, and the presence of key non-care support services will be maintained.
The number of medical staff has also increased in Primary Care Medical Centres. The care strategy for this summer is focused on promoting urgent care throughout the Health Authority with the 24-hour opening of the 6 Continuous Care Points (PAC). The integration of Primary and Specialised Care allows the PACs to be connected with the hospital, so that users can solve their health problems closer to home, without waiting.
The Emergency Service has incorporated additional staff in all categories: 38 more nurses, going from 21 to 58, 8 more Auxiliary Nursing Care Technicians, going from 15 to 23, and 4 additional guards, going from 17 to 21. The Emergency Service has also added 2 additional administrators, going from 6 to 8.
Even though many of the points from the “Shock Plan” have already been introduced, there continues to be a barrage of complaints on social networks, driven largely by a previous campaign by the Plataforma Sanidad Excelente, which was born to defend the previous private company, Ribera Salud, and their management of the centre, which also gained the support of local representatives.
Among the complaints, one was made public by an emergency doctor who works at the hospital in which it was said that “patients die unhappily in the corridors” after more than eight hours of waiting.
One Facebook post also stated that the hospital has hired a Russian doctor who cannot express herself in Spanish and cannot write up medical records.
The mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón also once again denounced the situation as “unsustainable” saying that he had warned about the lack of human resources, focussing on the lack of doctors, to cover the shifts and the delays of five, ten and fifteen hours in the Accident and Emergency area with only nursing assistance in triage, the most important area where patients are sorted according to their need for care.
According to the Spanish press, Doctors who work in the Emergency Department say that the situation has never been as precarious as it is now, with less than half of the doctors needed per shift -three out of eight- and delays to treatment that exceed 12 hours, and all this even before the additional influx expected during the summer holiday period.
Yet despite all of the promises, only this week we read of a disabled patient suffering severe abdominal pain who waited 23 hours to be treated by A&E. The hospital say that it is a situation that they sincerely regret.
This continue to generate numerous Facebook posts from users who are explaining their personal cases on the social network, providing medical reports, delays in the Emergency room of more than ten and fifteen hours.
(Untold stories & bad experiences of Torrevieja hospital. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1025715298203766)
Torrevieja Mayor Eduardo Dolon said that he is disgusted with the situation calling the situation in the Hospital Emergency Department “unsustainable.” He also added that he will even support street protests if the situation is not resolved very quickly.
Last week, after the chief of staff of the new Health Minister, Miguel Mínguez, refused to put him in touch with the Minister, the mayor had to resort to a personal call to President Puig to ask him to convey to the new minister the lack of means and the all too regular delays of more than ten and fifteen hours in the A&E waiting area, for cases that are not minor.
On Friday Dolón told the press that hopes that during this coming weekend (11/12 June) the situation of care for patients in the Hospital Emergency Department will improve substantially. Otherwise, he said ” While I am not going to champion any street demonstration, I will certainly be supporting it”, adding, “we have all had a lot of patience, we do not want to be fobbed off anymore because it is unsustainable. I ask people to wait but I can’t stop it anymore”.