Thursday, September 23

Darias gets tangled up in Health

Minister Darias enters the press room of La Moncloa

Minister Darias enters the press room of La Moncloa

Carolina Darias is living his most complicated and bitter moments in the central government. The Canarian minister has chained in a few weeks a series of decisions at the head of the Ministry of Health that have put her in the pillory and weakened her position in the face of this remodeling of the Executive that the president, Pedro Sánchez, would be preparing for before the end of the summer. When the Canarian socialist promised them happier for the good progress of the vaccination campaign and the country is heading towards group immunity even before the scheduled dates, a controversial measure increasing the restrictions of the hotel industry and nightlife to continue fighting the pandemic, which has been rejected by many autonomous communities and questioned by the National High Court, has placed it in the political trigger.

It is the minister’s third setback in a few weeks that adds to the controversies about the administration of the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and about the choice of specialist positions for the MIR (Internal Resident Physician). If until now his continuity in the Executive of Sánchez in a department in which he has only been in office for less than four months was not questioned by anyone, his mistakes and the entanglement that he has not been able to overcome can make it difficult for him to stay in office.

Darias will preside this afternoon a Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (Cisns) which is expected to be harsh and tense and in which it will certify the reversal that it has been forced to give with respect to the agreement reached last week. In essence, said agreement, which was opposed by six autonomous communities and before which two others abstained, established new restrictions on the opening and operation of nightlife venues, a sector that was severely punished after more than a year with almost no activity and that ensures that he will not be able to sustain himself if this summer he cannot regain some normality. Faced with the threat of communities such as Catalonia, the Basque Country or Madrid that they would not comply with these restrictions because they were not mandatory and also invaded regional powers as the state of alarm had already waned, the minister said that they were mandatory measures and almost in tune of threat assured that the Government would enforce them.

Since that day, Darias has been the center of all criticism not only from the regional governments that opposed these restrictions, but also from the majority of the political forces in Congress, who just yesterday managed to get the Table of the The Chamber approved the appearance of the minister before the Health Commission to explain the meaning of those measures that she insisted on imposing despite the decrease in infections, and in apparent contradiction to the fact that the Executive decided to give flexibility to the regions to guide their own measures based on their epidemiological situation.

To avalanche of criticism adds that the National Court – before which the Community of Madrid presented an appeal – issued on Monday an order that leaves the agreement of the Interterritorial Council on paper and that, as a result, has forced Darias to draw up a new document that he will present today to the regional councilors of Health in which it recognizes that the measures are not mandatory and proposes new ones that are supposed to include the proposals made by the community representatives.

In addition to the rectification, the minister will have to take the bitter pill of listening to the reproaches of the councilors who have already warned her of the error involved in measures that considered “unilateral” and that it encroached on competencies. The debate, in addition, will in all probability adopt a political tone and a very direct and personal charge against the minister, like the one used yesterday by the congressional groups in their regular appearances after the Board of Spokespersons.

These criticisms will not reach, in any case, those that accompany the questionable theory coined by the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, that these measures de facto supposed an “attack” on that region and its citizens with the secret intention on the part of Darias to run as a candidate for the Presidency of the Canary Islands in the elections in two years.

True or not, the truth is that the Canarian minister is beginning to lose her footing in her political position after a series of highly contested decisions on which she has been forced to rectify. This also happened in the case of the injection of the second dose in people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca serum.

Thus, after several weeks of uncertainty and contradicting explanations awaiting scientific studies on a vaccine that was first recommended for citizens under 60 years of age, then suspended due to the thrombi that it caused in a minimum percentage among those vaccinated, and finally reserved for the age group between 60 and 69 years, Health recommended Pfizer to people pending second dose with the option of rejecting it and wearing the Anglo-Swedish. But, to the surprise of the Health authorities and the Minister herself, it turned out that the majority of the citizens of that age group were more afraid of the possible consequences of combining two serums, than of suffering thrombi with both doses of AstraZeneca, a brand for which practically all of those affected chose. After a first tantrum by the Ministry, Darias was finally forced to assume the policy of fait accompli in the communities that gave them a choice.

The another controversy starring the Canarian socialist it is related to the system for choosing the specialty position for medical students who are candidates for the MIR. The opposition of this group to the telematic and non-face-to-face election is being insistent and has provoked demonstrations by this group throughout the country. Darias’ team maintains that with this new method everything will be more “efficient and effective”, that it is legal and that it can no longer be changed, but the MIRs deny it and speak of a “nightmare” in the “blind” election of The squares. For the moment, the doctors are continuing their protest campaign and the minister proposes an intermediate system of telematic election similar to the face-to-face one. A new correction of positions to avoid that the skid, another one, is consolidated.

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