“PUBLIC FOR THE PEOPLE”
Valencia chief says health department take-over will improve service
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.