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Critical Shortage of Primary Care Doctors in Spain Causes Health Center Collapse

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Critical Shortage of Primary Care Doctors in Spain Causes Health Center Collapse

Primary Care Doctors Shortage in Spain Puts Strain on Health System

The shortage of Primary Care doctors in Spain has reached a critical level, with about 5,000 positions vacant according to medical societies. This has led to a lack of resources in health centers, which affects four out of every ten Spaniards, as reported by the CIS. The issue has also resulted in system collapses during critical periods such as the flu epidemic over the last Christmas season.

The crisis has prompted autonomous communities, especially those governed by the Popular Party (PP), to demand more positions for Family Internal Resident Doctors (MIR) to address the problem. During a plenary session of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS), the Minister of Health, Mónica García, committed to creating more positions but also highlighted that the lack of doctors staying after completing their residency is a major contributing factor.

Many MIRs opt for other medical opportunities, such as working in hospital emergencies, the private sector, or even pursuing other specialties with better conditions. The existing vicious circle has deteriorated the system and has been exacerbated during the pandemic, with doctors having little time to see patients, making working in health centers less attractive.

García emphasized the need for professionals to have time for appointments within 48 hours, for personalized follow-up and a community approach. The overload of work, lack of professional recognition, and precarious contracts has led to consultations with up to 60 patients a day. The issue of healthcare workforce is mainly under the jurisdictions of autonomous communities, which have committed to improving conditions and increasing incentives to attract more doctors, especially to rural areas.

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In the midst of this crisis, the removal of the rule on the mandatory use of masks in health centers due to a controlled epidemic wave of flu and other respiratory infections has also gained attention. Health and the communities have committed to working on respiratory virus plans for the next winter based on the latest epidemic data.

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