The president of the Board, Juan Manuel Moreno, on the right, together with Dr. Pablo Muñoz Cariñanos and the Minister of Health and Families, Catalina García, last March.Alejandro Ruesga
The Junta de Andalucía will soon award two public contracts for 734 million for private healthcare to carry out surgical operations, consultations and diagnostic tests in the next four years, starting in 2024. The solution of the Government of Juan Manuel Moreno (PP) to reduce The large waiting list, with 881,439 Andalusians last December – one in every 10 citizens – is to refer patients to private healthcare, which this year alone will receive 593 million for these operations and diagnostic appointments. The unions and the opposition have criticized this decision by the Andalusian Executive, which they have called “covert privatization” while appointments in primary care are delayed up to two weeks and with entire regions without doctors.
“We are quite angry about this concert, with a lot of money, because the cuts this summer in healthcare have been tremendous. The Ministry should study how to increase the productivity of areas and operating rooms in the public, and once the impossibility is seen, then increase the agreement with the private one,” laments Rafael Ojeda, president of the Andalusian Medical Union, about the agreements, advanced by ABC this weekend. Waiting lists are entrenched in this region, which 10 months ago had almost 40,000 more patients than two years ago, when 843,945 Andalusians were in line.
This union leader emphasizes that given the constant increase in the waiting list, public health has generated a “structural deficit”, which should be alleviated with an investment in operating rooms and hospitals. “Does the Board intend to maintain this constant deficit over time, as if public health were intrinsically incapable?” He asks. “This summer the reduction in afternoon activity in public hospitals has been very severe. Has it been saved from the public to allocate it to the private? ”He adds.
The Andalusian Minister of the Presidency, Antonio Sanz, took aim this Monday at the PSOE and attributes the decision to the lack of doctors: “We are forced to make this decision because there are no doctors. This has nothing to do with privatization, only an undocumented person can relate it. We should ask the PSOE if we have invented that diagnostic tests and operations are developed through consultation and how many times it has implemented it,” he stated.
The Andalusian Ministry of Health and Families alleges that its spending on concerts is 63 euros per inhabitant per year, when the average in Spain is 123 euros. “Andalusia is one of the communities that spends the least on concerts, above that we have Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Madrid or the Valencian Community,” argue sources from said ministry. This year, of the percentage of the total budget of 13.8 billion, 4.03%, with 593 million, is allocated to agree with private healthcare, but that percentage rose to 5.22% “as a consequence of a million-dollar debt left by the PSOE to the Andalusians with Pascual Hospitals,” these sources accuse. Andalusia has not yet published the waiting lists from last June due to a computer failure, according to the Board.
Sanz has responded to the criticism this Sunday from the socialist health spokesperson, María Ángeles Prieto, who described the agreements as a “deadly attack on our public health system, which leaves it without resources.”
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The two agreements that have been put out to tender are divided into 34 lots with MRIs, mammograms, endoscopies or ultrasounds, among other diagnostic tests. The Andalusians will be operated on in other neighboring communities, when it is not possible in this community, to concerted centers within a radius of 300 kilometers as a limit.
The CC OO union considers a “drain of funds” the agreements offered by the Board with a public health system in “an enormously difficult situation” that “is killing.” “We have never experienced a situation in which a primary care appointment takes 8, 10 or 15 days. Entire regions, like Estepa, do not have doctors for their patients and in Andalusia nearly 300,000 children do not have a pediatrician,” he censures. The union recalls that the concert is held with hundreds of consultations and operating rooms closed in the afternoons and devices unused due to lack of personnel.
For the general secretary of UGT, Antonio Macías, it is “the perfect equation to increase waiting lists, take public employment, increase spending in the private sector and sell it as a success because people no longer have to wait.” And he adds another angle to the criticism: “Why in private healthcare do doctors have stable contracts and in public healthcare are they given contracts of up to one month despite the lack of doctors there? “It’s nonsense and they do it as if it were ideal.”
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