The weekly supplement, A Tu Salud, edited by the La Razón newspaper, is now 15 years old. It is one of the most award-winning specialised publications in the Spanish press, both in print and digital. Through this blog I´d like to congratulate their director, Sergio Alonso, and all of his team for the excellent work that they do week in week out; a team to whom I am grateful that they wanted my endorsement for such a special anniversary.
What follows is a speech that I wrote, entitled “Parallel Paths”. I hope that you enjoy it.
“At Ribera Salud we feel a deep involvement in journalism, since we believe that there are a lot of common points between the two sectors. Vocational professions, journalists and healthcare providers work for society; we are public services that strive to provide the best service to citizens and are responsible for this public service.
I believe that a democratic and mature society will always need serious, responsible and brave journalism; just as I believe that the health of our citizens requires specialised, qualified and skilled professionals.
When La Razón chose to edit the supplement ´A tu Salud´ 15 years ago, the health sector was grateful because there was a real lack of publications of this kind in Spain. Who said, then, that journalism had a bad diagnosis?
At the same time as La Razon´s presses were set into motion, Ribera Salud´s first public private health collaboration was put into action in Spain: named “The Alzira Model” due to the place within the Valencian Community in which it was created. Since then, we have had parallel paths and our development has been shown on your pages, on many occasions with praise, on some occasions with criticism, but we know that good journalism is always objective.
I believe that an advanced society is not measured by the number of journalists, although it is true that is not guaranteed without good journalism. The increasing social demand for information regarding health issues has been seen together with a notable increase in this informative specialisation in the media, something for which I applaud La Razón. The have consolidated their publication for 15 years and, what is more, in a sector where publications constantly appear and disappear.
The loss of diversity in the media is bad for society because diversity encourages competition and creativity and allows us to compare and make conclusions in order to boost continued improvement and makes us freer. And the same is applicable in any sector and, of course, in that which I dedicate myself: healthcare.
I look at the current combination of journalistic crisis and the “model crisis” with concern. However, I firmly believe that good journalism will always benefit from good health. It will survive. Support is another thing. It is the ´traditional model´ that is in crisis. And, this…I understand quite a lot.
Always respecting the basic principles that have made our National Health System an international reference, the diversity of management models is good for society because diversity encourages improvement, allows us to analyse and make conclusions to achieve a better service for citizens, based on excellence.
However, with the current climate, it is deplorable that we don´t realise that the challenges that are faced by healthcare are global challenges, not local; and that the most advanced countries in Europe are resorting to public private collaboration to address them. A collaboration model that some try to demonise, in spite of endorsements from recognised institutions, universities and international bodies, or reports such as that issued by the Court of Accounts (or Audit office) at the request of the Valencian government.
The study concluded that public hospitals under private management represent a 25% saving for public administration, have a much shorter waiting list, have much better quality indicators, make citizens more satisfied and have practically double that investment in each citizen. However, these conclusions were not taken into account when it came to renewing the contract in Alzira, taking the case to trial.
This is an example of great legal insecurity that can be produced. Regardless of whether the work carried out is excellent or not, the government´s response is the same. What incentive will a company have to do great work? What image are we giving internationally if our own government doesn´t take it into account and dismisses results from independent studies that it itself requested.
Here institutional loyalty has failed. Dialogue, transparency and seriousness should be our identity trait. I have always demanded professional, calm, consensual debates, with data; and a committee that, independently, collects that information and presents it to citizens, just as I have demanded journalism that checks, contrasts and, only then, publishes.
I´d like to make a toast to these 15 years of the “A Tu Salud” supplement. May there be more quality journalism, with more diversity for healthcare providers and more quality and sustainable healthcare for citizens”.