“PUB­LIC FOR THE PEO­PLE”

Va­len­cia chief says health depart­ment take-over will im­prove ser­vice

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Front Page - By Dave Jones

TORREVIEJA health­care depart­ment will be run di­rectly by the re­gional gov­ern­ment from next year.

Coun­cil­lor for health Ana Barceló said that tak­ing over di­rect man­age­ment will al­low them to im­prove the qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency of the ser­vice for res­i­dents in Torrevieja, Guardamar del Se­gura, Ro­jales, Pi­lar de la Ho­radada, Ori­huela, San Ful­gen­cio, Beni­jó­far, For­mentera del Se­gura, San Miguel de Sali­nas and Los Mon­tesinos.

She as­sured that the move will ‘guar­an­tee’ bet­ter health­care for users in the area.

Sra Barceló said health­care ‘could not be con­di­tioned by re­duc­tions in cost brought about to make a profit’. Crit­ics of the an­nounce­ment not to re­new the con­ces­sion of pri­vate com­pany Rib­era Salud in­clude Torrevieja mayor Eduardo Dolón, who said he feared the ser­vice would now go down­hill.

THE RE­GIONAL gov­ern­ment an­nounced on Tues­day that it will not re­new the con­ces­sion of pri­vate com­pany Rib­era Salud to run Torrevieja health­care area and its hos­pi­tal.

Re­gional coun­cil­lor for health Ana Barceló gave a press con­fer­ence at Torrevieja’s in­ter­na­tional au­di­to­rium to con­firm the move.

She noted that the con­ces­sion granted to Rib­era Salud – which is owned by US health­care gi­ant Cen­tene Cor­po­ra­tion – will end in Oc­to­ber next year.

Sra Barceló ex­plained that the pro­ce­dures to take the health­care au­thor­ity back un­der the di­rect man­age­ment of her depart­ment would start im­me­di­ately. The first step was to for­mally in­form Rib­era Salud on Wed­nes­day of the re­gional gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion.

The man­age­ment of the com­pany were told of the pro­ce­dures for the hand-over of all med­i­cal equip­ment and ma­te­ri­als, as well as the con­tin­u­a­tion of the con­tracts of the staff work­ing at the hos­pi­tal and lo­cal health cen­tres.

This will have to be com­pleted over the com­ing year.

As well as the univer­sity hos­pi­tal, depart­ment 22 in­cludes all the health cen­tres in Torrevieja, Guardamar del Se­gura, Ro­jales, Pi­lar de la Ho­radada, Ori­huela, San Ful­gen­cio, Beni­jó­far, For­mentera del Se­gura, San Miguel de Sali­nas and Los Mon­tesinos.

Sra Barceló stated that a di­rect line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion would be set up with work­ers to make sure they are con­tin­u­ally up­dated on the process.

The health chief noted that they want to be able to con­tinue to rely on the ‘valiant’ pro­fes­sion­als who work in the depart­ment. She thanked them for their work and ded­i­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic.

War of words

A bat­tle to in­flu­ence the hearts and minds of res­i­dents has been rag­ing since the re­gional gov­ern­ment first in­di­cated last year that it was pre­par­ing to end the con­ces­sion granted to

Rib­era Salud – which was up for re­newal af­ter 15 years.

Op­po­nents of pri­vate health­care have held a num­ber of demon­stra­tions to state their case, the lat­est of which took place out­side Torrevieja hos­pi­tal at the week­end.

A spokes­woman for the group ‘Por la sanidad 100 x 100 pública’ said they were de­mand­ing im­prove­ments to health­care in the Torrevieja area. This would start ‘with the an­nounce­ment of the end of the con­tract and the re­ver­sion to pub­lic man­age­ment’.

Ac­cord­ing to the as­so­ci­a­tion, the health­care area is un­der­staffed and un­der­funded – and the spokes­woman claimed that pri­vate com­pa­nies are only in­ter­ested in profit and de­fend­ing their in­ter­ests.

Unions have high­lighted that some de­part­ments at the hos­pi­tal are not em­ploy­ing enough spe­cial­ists, lead­ing to a de­fi­cient ser­vice for users.

They noted that the only health­care depart­ment in the Va­len­cia re­gion with fewer doc­tors per SIP card holder is

Elche-Cre­vil­lente, which is also op­er­ated by Rib­era Salud.

“The level of sat­is­fac­tion of users of Torrevieja health­care depart­ment is ex­clu­sively due to the ex­cep­tional work of the health­care pro­fes­sion­als, who have worse work­ing con­di­tions and pay than their col­leagues in the rest of the re­gion,” claimed the spokes­woman.

The fight to keep depart­ment 22 un­der the man­age­ment of Rib­era Salud has been fronted by the pro­vin­cial Par­tido Pop­u­lar (PP), in par­tic­u­lar the may­ors of Torrevieja and Ori­huela, Eduardo Dolón and Emilio Bas­cuñana.

Sr Dolón noted that they had held a meet­ing with Sra Barceló on Tues­day in which they had asked the re­gional gov­ern­ment to give as­sur­ances that the €40 mil­lion in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture promised by Rib­era Salud ear­lier this year would not be lost.

He also asked the coun­cil­lor to ‘guar­an­tee’ that all the health­care work­ers in the depart­ment would main­tain their cur­rent terms and con­di­tions.

Sr Dolón claimed that Torrevieja hos­pi­tal is one of the ‘best man­aged’ hos­pi­tals in Spain and lamented that the re­gional gov­ern­ment ‘does not have a plan’ for it.

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