The sixth wave of covid-19 – the largest in terms of the volume of infections – is taking its toll on the health system and on some professionals who have been dealing with the virus for almost two years. Especially delicate is the current situation of Primary Care, which in addition to the six waves of coronavirus, the last one – in which Navarra is still in – is particularly hard due to the large amount of work that the centers have assumed, added to the structural problems that dragged before the pandemic, such as the lack of professionals, especially doctors. In this sense, the Department of Health faces the challenge of Primary Care at a time when there are 21 unfilled vacancies in Medicine and in a year, 2022, in which the retirement of 28 doctors is planned.
The shortage of professionals is a structural problem that affects the entire health system, but especially Primary Care, where, according to data from Osasunbidea, there are 21 medical vacancies that are not filled. The total Medicine positions are 700, so only 3% of the positions would be without service. However, the number of vacancies without a stable owner is greater since, as the department itself indicates, “one thing is that a vacancy does not have a stable owner and another that it is not covered and attention is not paid to citizens “. Thus, many of these vacancies without a stable holder are being filled in different ways: through the professionals of the team where the position is, by extending the working day of other professionals, etc.
With regard to retirements, in 2022, 28 doctors are expected to leave. Especially, there is a lack of Family and Paediatrics doctors, for which Health, within the framework of the Primary Care Plan, is committed to an “active search” for hiring doctors. Likewise, it tries to consolidate the Osasunbidea staff: according to the department, between now and June, 141 Medicine professionals (Family, SUE and Pediatrics) from the OPE that have already been carried out will be incorporated into permanent Primary Care positions.
On the other hand, with the MIR positions, Health seeks to compensate for the retirements that occur each year. Specifically, in 2021 there were 25 retirements of doctors, which have been almost entirely offset by the incorporation of 24 newly trained doctors who have decided to stay in Navarra. This year, the department also hopes to balance the expected 28 retirements, since the idea is to progressively increase the number of MIRs in training from the current twenty positions to 40.
Reinforcement of 157 professionals
On the other hand, within the Primary Care plan that the department is going to develop, the health centers will be reinforced with more professionals. Throughout this year, the staggered incorporation of 157 professionals is planned –an investment of 6.55 million–, of which 110 will be Nursing personnel, 16 Psychology personnel and 10 Health Education and Administration personnel. Likewise, given the current situation of the pandemic, Health has renewed the covid contingent of health centers, extending the contracts until summer of more than 300 professionals, most of them from Nursing.