Tuesday, August 3

Delay of up to 18 days in the health centers to get a phone appointment

This summer health management is going to be surpassed. The health departments of the province coincide in pointing out that it is necessary to assume, from now on, that there will be delays, like those that since Monday have returned the Queues in front of the Primary Care centers for desperate patients because they cannot even contact them by phone.

The accumulation of several holidays and the beginning of vacations among health personnel has led some of these departments to refer certain guidelines aimed at force the agendas of family doctors, so that they cover 70 patients a day compared to the current fifty.

Nevertheless, the measure is not enough and cannot reduce demand despite the fact that they assure this newspaper that face-to-face appointments account for 80% of the total.

Centers that accumulate a greater amount of population to attend especially in summer, such as Cabo de las Huertas in Alicante, accumulate phone-only appointment delays of up to 18 days, but in the same circumstances they are also in that of Benalúa, where they cannot cope despite the fact that it is traditionally among those that accumulate the least delay. In this clinic located in a central area of ​​Alicante the delay is three days longer for a telephone appointment than for a face-to-face one.

The widespread queues also overflow to the center of Florida Babel, with patients who declare that they are “fed up” with pressing the phone without success, hence their presence with the intention of making an appointment for the next few days.

In the departments of Elche, specifically those dependent on the General Hospital, the delay is not as marked as in Alicante but it lasts a week for both face-to-face and telephone appointments.

The centers are not enough to answer telephone inquiries, such as the one in Campoamor. | HÉCTOR FUENTES

The Medical Union accounts for the replacement of just 21% and 27% of the doctors in the health centers of Alicante and Elche respectively, in coastal areas, and even only 13% in areas such as Elche-Vinalopó. The percentages are repeated in a similar way in Orihuela, Elda or the Marina Baixa, where between 20% and 40% of the doctors are covered.

“They are not adequate figures in any circumstance, and even less so in the current epidemiological situation that, let us remember, has not yet been resolved”, as detailed by the CESM provincial delegation.

The general secretary of the aforementioned union, Víctor Pedrera, warned it in his day, and from the departments consulted they confirm that they are watching and wanting to cover the holidays because they are contracts of only two to three months, after a hard year of pandemic that it has particularly punished the health sector for the added efforts that they have been forced to make, and the places are not filled.

To try to speed up the accumulation of appointments, specific appointments that imply the resolution of doubts, especially about the vaccine, or the processing of cancellations are also being directed towards the administrative staff. But to divert the issue, the first way is to answer the phone and, if it is not reached, the queues will intensify.

No volunteers to work overtime in the office

The accumulated fatigue among health professionals has also practically exhausted the willingness to work overtime with which to try to reduce the accumulated delay in health centers. The coincidence of the start of vacation shifts and the stressful year of fighting the pandemic has significantly reduced the volume of doctors offering to double shift. They point out from the CESM that compensation for the accumulated excess is not an economic issue.


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