Overlooking healthcare is a mistake

This is my first blog entry of 2021 and although the majority of us were hoping that the year would have started better, the truth is that this pandemic is making life difficult for us. As the president of Valencia’s College of Physicians quite rightly described, this is not a wave, this is a vertical wall.

And I’d like to add: it is impossible to face a challenge like that of this pandemic without order or planning or correct management from our authorities which, in addition, still do not count on physicians to make decisions. It seems that some public debates carry more weight than the deaths of hundreds of people every day, a terrible statistic that we have experienced for the last few weeks.

Almost a year since the start of this unprescedented health, social and economic crisis, our leaders still do not believe in the importance of uniting and combining forces and strengthening the coordination between public and private resources. Once again, it seems that they prefer to put beds in hospital halls, chapels or the corridors in the Emergency department rather than sitting down with all the healthcare workers and jointly planning the best way of treating Covid patients, as well as non-Covid patients that cannot or should not wait any longer. It is important to remember that, after a year of the pandemic, the waiting lists are unbearable in many hospitals. We are talking about people’s health.

I sometimes have the feeling that putting a patient in a private hospital bed is valued less than putting them in the cafeteria of a public hospital. And I find it outrageous that someone may even question what is better for that patient.

These types of situations are those that, in my opinion, we have to reflect on in terms of what we’re not doing well, both within the sector and in society in general, especially if we allow these things that shouldn’t happen to indeed happen. They shouldn’t even occur. You can’t close your eyes when faced with situations that have no justification. Not to mention the hospital tents that have been set up in the Valencian Community and I’m not going to go into the criticisms. All you need to do is hear what the poor patients who were admitted there have said. But the bottom line is that, unfortunately, our leaders have spent the last year making bad decisions and making them too late, investing in botched jobs that don’t improve the healthcare of the citizens or the work of the professionals and wasting and disregarding resources that the private sector has made available to them since the beginning.

And that bias regarding private healthcare and its professionals brings me to another disdainful gesture shown to this group, a group as professional and vocational as that of the public centres. I’m referring to the vaccination process. You don’t need to be an expert in the subject  or manage a health group to realise that neither the organisation nor the logistics of the vaccination process have been good on the part of the relevant authorities. And a lot of things surprise me: from the lack of foresight to the disastrous planning and distribution of the vaccine, in some locations a dose wasted due to a lack of adequate needles and countless other things. But it surprises me again that private healthcare professionals are marginalised when it comes to the vaccination process, as if they don’t treat Covid patients (and non-Covid, who could catch  it when they come to a consultation without knowing it). At least, there have been medical associations that have gone to the courts to demand the vaccination of these professionals and, after having it granted, the governments have taken it as an obligation…but putting them almost at the bottom of the list. It’s outrageous. All health professionals, regardless of where they carry out their work, are equally valuable. Today and always. But especially in the context of this virus. Marginalisation in healthcare during a pandemic is a very serious mistake.  

And I want to stress a fundamental idea. We have to focus all of our efforts on two objectives: to guarantee appropriate healthcare for all Covid and non-Covid patients; and to give a definitive boost to vaccinating. There are success stories and examples of unified efforts, resources, staff and infrastructures that have resulted in a very high percentage of vaccinations among the public, for example, Israel.

We have time to re-direct 2021 and turn some predictions around that, at present, are not optimistic. But I want to say loudly…together, we will achieve it!

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