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Regional health conference to tackle GP shortages
NATIONAL health minister Dolors Montserrat will meet with all her regional counterparts in Spain this coming Wednesday (November 8) to discuss the shortage of GPs in local surgeries, among other issues.
This is the second meeting of its type held by Sra Montserrat in her year-long reign as head of the Spanish health authority, and for the first time, Catalunya will not be represented.
Following the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, placing Catalunya under State rule, all its ministers have been sacked – and its health minister Antoni Comín is currently in Brussels with ex-regional president Carles Puigdemont and facing an international arrest warrant and extradition order.
The GP shortage has been added to the agenda at the request of several regional health authorities, who are waiting for the national government to launch a fresh recruitment drive for doctors and nurses to make up their dwindling local practice teams.
Just a week ago, the Spanish Medical Oncology Society (SEOM) warned that Spain needed at least another 200 cancer specialists to meet current demand.
Oncology departments in hospitals nationwide are overwhelmed and cancer doctors overstretched, the SEOM says.
The society has requested at least a 20% increase in oncologists across the country.
And in the past five years, the Medical Colleges' Organisation (OMC) has received over 15,000 applications for accreditation certificates needed by Spanish doctors to allow them to practice overseas, especially from young, relatively recently-qualified medics who have had to go abroad to be able to work in their profession.
The OMC criticises the fact that Spain has an overall doctor shortage, and yet thousands of qualified medics are leaving the country as they cannot get a job at home.
Also on the agenda is the issue of how to regulate the administering of medication by nurses.
A law change two years ago means nurses are now permitted to give patients drugs which do not require a doctor's prescription – until then, they were not even allowed to give a paracetamol pill to a patient waiting in A&E who was in pain, even though these are available in any pharmacy over the counter.
This has long been a bone of contention for nurses, who say they study the same pharmacology module as part of their training as doctors do.
The exact types of medication and procedures to follow will be discussed at Wednesday's meeting.
Other items on the agenda include possible compensation for Thalidomide victims and a national strategy for ALS, or motor neurone disease.
Recommendations for administering 'flu jabs, fund allocation for rare illnesses, routine checks, agencies and industrial purchases, and refugee assistance will be discussed during the conference.
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