At the start of his work day on Thursday, one of the technicians of the ambulances for non-urgent transfers in A Coruña reviewed the hours at which the services he was going to take care of had been requested. The first patient he saw had been waiting for about seven hours to be transferred. This check is not strange in the routine of this worker, who has been writing down the cases in which the maximum established is exceeded, of five hours, and has a list with dozens of names since the beginning of 2019. The maximum delay in their registration It is 11 hours, in August of last year.
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At a time when the Xunta considers Galicia a “unique hospital”, deficiencies emerge in one of the links of this strategy: the transfer of patients to ease the pressure in health centers. And they do it in the health areas with the most healthcare pressure, those of A Coruña and Ferrol. In the latter, the collapse in the critical care unit has led to the transfer of serious patients with COVID-19 to other hospitals.
An emergency health worker in Ferrol confirms that in the last month the waits are usually four or five hours. Faced with this situation, they try to make the displacement by their own means if the possibility exists. The really urgent issues are prioritized, but “what can wait, wait, and a lot”, he adds.
In the case of people who have tested positive for coronavirus and return to their homes because they do not need to stay in the hospital, the situation “is chaos” and the delays amount to eight hours, he says. Another medical professional from the same area points out that, every time a patient with coronavirus is the one who has used the vehicle, it is necessary to disinfect and that increases the times between services.
The ambulance technician who keeps track of the worst delays, who prefers not to give his name, attributes the delays to a lack of material and human resources. He complains that the breaches are not limited to this aspect and that, in addition, not all the ambulances that appear in the contract between the company and the Xunta work. The service is provided by the UTE (temporary union of companies) made up of Sanitary Services of La Coruña and María Pita Ambulances, which assures elDiario.es that the 47 vehicles required by the agreement with the Galician Government are “available”.
The workers denounce that the ambulances that actually work are fewer and provide the data of the personnel that are in each shift: between Monday and Friday, when there are more professionals working, there are never more than 24 in the morning, 14 in the afternoon and four at night for the health area of A Coruña-Cee. The calculations, made by the CNT, are based on the employees’ schedules. The staff delegate, Néstor Torea, criticizes that, if a service requires more than one professional, that means that one of the units stops and its driver acts as a stretcher in another ambulance.
The company admits delays in transfers: “We are aware that, as the health situation is in A Coruña, in some cases waiting times have increased”. He argues that the workload and security measures derived from the pandemic “slow down some services.” The workers, for their part, assure that protection measures are not always complied with and have brought to the attention of the Prosecutor’s Office the case of a team that transferred a patient positive for coronavirus without the appropriate suit, despite the fact that, they say, they asked the base. “When the nurses saw them arrive, they put their hands to their heads, they were prepared with the EPI,” says Torea.
In this context, the Xunta negotiates a new agreement to provide the service in the health area. Despite the delays in transfers, the Galician government is asking for fewer ambulances than in the current contract: it drops them from 47 to 36. The UTE that heads La Coruña Health Services is, according to the unions, well positioned to be the winner again. Torea denounces that the specification “seems made” for it.
The process, however, has been provisionally suspended by the Administrative Court of Public Procurement of Galicia after the request of the CIG (Confederación Intersindical Galega).
Source: ElDiario.es – ElDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.
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