The Ministry of Health will stop considering infections of social origin those who suffer healthcare workers when they are gathered, resting or eating in the rooms set up for it in their work centers. To date, and although each Health Department has been establishing its own classification criteria, most of the Occupational Risk Prevention Services only consider that the contagion has an occupational origin when it comes from direct contact with a patient who has tested positive for coronavirus. However, as a result of the two outbreaks that have infected 25 nurses and Traumatology and Oncology assistants at the Elda Hospital, the Central Health Services for Occupational Risks have rectified the classification of social contagion to consider them occupational contagion by accident job. This has been confirmed to this newspaper by the regional head of Occupational Health and Prevention of Occupational Risks of the Nursing Union, Francisco Martínez, after interviewing the regional head of the area to warn him of the irregularity that Health could incur in maintaining this criterion. Basically because, according to the regulations, any accident or illness that the worker contracts during his working day is considered a work accident. In the case of Elda, the Occupational Risk Prevention technicians suspect that the infections occurred in the rest rooms of the plants. Are very tight spaces and no windows to the outside. Therefore, conducive to the transmission of the contagious virus through the aerosols that are emitted when talking or coughing.
«Considering these infections of labor origin supposes admit failures in the health personnel protection system, as we have been denouncing since BETIt also has labor consequences for the workers, ”warns the union leader of the area, Francisco Martínez. A position also shared by the general secretary of the Alicante Medical Union, Víctor Pedrera, who has blamed Preventive Medicine for the situation “for not adopting the necessary measures to prevent professionals from being infected at work.”
In the case of public hospitals, sick leave, whether or not it is recognized as a work accident, does not affect salary but yes on retirement benefits or in the compensation in case of sequelae by the covid-19. It is worse for private health professionals because, if the contagion is considered social and not occupational, they lose 25% of their salary during the time that the sick leave lasts.
Faced with the controversy unleashed by the coronavirus outbreaks in the Elda Hospital, UGT has expressed its support for health personnel, “who are working with a high level of commitment and professionalism in a situation as complex as the current health crisis.” The territorial secretary of the UGT-PV in La Muntanya-Vinalopó-Vega Baja, Ismael Senent, has also pointed out that «it is being shown that among health professionals the vast majority of infections are of occupational origin, so You can’t blame anyone in situations like this. ‘ Also, the Alicante College of Nursing asked yesterday to stop blaming health professionals for the covid-19 outbreaks, as has happened with respect to the cases of infections registered in the General Hospital of Elda and on other previous occasions. “Instead of blaming health professionals, as is usually done by system, more incidence should be made in a reality that is reflected in the intolerant variability of protocols, lack of means of protection, coordination and other deficiencies that have the fact that professionals have had to risk their health and lives, becoming infected in the workplace and fighting the pandemic. A risk that, however, is minimized by an Administration that must provide its workers with the most appropriate means to carry out their work.
For her part, the manager of the Elda Health Department has assured that “at no time has any statement been made about the origin of these outbreaks, not sharing, in addition, the statements made in the published information.” Vicenta Tortosa also wanted to express in the released statement its gratitude to all professionals “for their great involvement and commitment in the day to day to face a pandemic” that is being especially virulent in the Upper and Middle Vinalopó.
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