ICU at Son Llàtzer. | Miquel À. Cañellas

Last week, additional beds had to be opened and extra staff drafted in because the emergency department at Son Espases was unable to cope. There is a similar issue at Son Llàtzer, where 44 patients were waiting to be admitted to wards at noon on Monday. In the end, eighteen were transferred to a ward, fifteen were discharged, while three patients went to a care centre.

The problem is not as a direct result of an increase in coronavirus infections, but this is having an impact. The main cause is the usual plan for high summer. Staff go on holiday, and beds are closed. On Saturday, when there was high demand in emergencies, beds were opened, but there weren't sufficient staff. The hospital's manager, Xisco Marí, says that there is also an issue because nurses are being deployed as Covid tracers. "There are no nurses who can be hired." The nurses union Satse supports this; the nursing job "bank" has been used up.

If beds can't be opened because of a shortage of personnel, solutions include discharging patients or referrals to care centres. The numbers are, however, very small. The hospital's management is considering asking the IB-Salut health service to free up staff who are engaged in tracing. "We have to do everything we can to open beds," Marí stresses. He adds that the influx of patients is normal but that there are also the Covid patients who have to be admitted to wards.

The SAE union of nursing technicians says that the staff shortage problem is being repeated in other units. The hospital is juggling to maintain regular care and surgical activity, while the pandemic also needs to be contained.