The consequences of healthcare saturation: “You self-medicate for not going to the hospital”

“Many times I endure pain for not going to the ER,” a Madrid woman admits to this newspaper, a phrase that suggests her feelings about the saturation of public health. The panorama is so delicate that even the group of doctors that make up the Strike Committee that negotiates with the Ministry of Health to improve the conditions of the toilets ended this Thursday by forcibly locking themselves in the building until someone from the Government negotiated. with sensitivity to the current state of health and the demanding working conditions.

These are common stories. People who have recently resorted to public health in Madrid and have discovered a hostile territory, violent with the patient and the professional, precarious in quality and services, limited in time and in the margin of action. The crudest side of health policies takes place in the saturated corridors of hospitals, in long waits in the ER, in bad diagnoses and in doctors who abandon their posts, exhausted by the exhausting workload.

Carmen and Julián are good proof of this. This married couple residing in the Madrid neighborhood of Tetuán lives real ordeals to have health care. They do not have extra-hospital emergencies in their neighborhood, when they go to the La Paz Hospital, the closest, the wait exhausts their patience, and the family doctor never has appointments soon.

“Many times I endure pain for not going to the ER”

“It is difficult to obtain an appointment in person, but telephone appointments also take a long time. Between ten and fifteen days minimumRight now they give it to me or by December 27 or January 5,” says this 69-year-old woman, who comes to a sad and harsh conclusion: “Many times you self-medicate by not going to the hospital. You don’t want to spend six hours in a chair“.

The state of emergencies in the capital has been giving stress symptoms that the pandemic has only worsened. At the beginning of December, the ERs in La Paz denounced before a duty court the saturation of the hospital after an afternoon with 100 patients and 50 beds, a grueling day but one that has been repeated on many occasions during 2022.

Tetuán has its extra-hospital emergencies —officially called PAC— in Chamberí, so many residents find it more convenient to travel to the La Paz Hospital, to at least guarantee complete care, although waiting hours are inevitable: “My husband It was because his leg hurt and he spent seven hours, which is usually the average,” says Carmen.

This type of situation, among many others such as the lack of investment in Primary Care, where Madrid is one of the regions of Spain that invests the least, which have caused family doctors and pediatricians in Madrid health centers to spend a month on strike to ask for more contracts and the reduction of patients that they attend throughout a day.

“The specialist gives me appointments every six months”

And there are anonymous stories with a much more negative charge and that suffer the same helplessness. This is the case of Miguel and Bárbara, a couple living in the Pilar neighborhood and who suffers, especially the woman, from persistent covid. In their own words, they have been “for more than two and a half years continuously fighting with the administration over the current collapse.”

Barbara suffers from severe symptoms of persistent covid. Problems walking (requires a walker), talking and concentrating. All, it seems, with a neurological basis. “When we go to the ER I usually have a lot of problems. Once in June I spent nine hours on a sofa and they did not give me any treatment I couldn’t request anything because I wasn’t in a position to do so,” she sadly recalls over the phone.

For Miguel, the frustration is also transferred to be referred to the specialist doctor: “In the Pilar neighborhood we do not even have extra-hospital emergencies. We have it in Fuencarral, which is further away than the La Paz Hospital. And the specialist gives me appointments every six months. It took more than 7 months for them to give me a sleep study.”

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