Health centre reception in Ibiza

Concerns now that health centres will get crowded.

13-05-2021Marcelo Sastre

With face-to-face appointments at health centres about to once more be the norm, the president of the Balearic Society of Family and Community Medicine, Elena Muñoz, is critical of the fact that patients can decide whether they go to a centre or have an appointment over the phone.

She believes that there needs to be a screening, and the president of the College of Doctors, José Manuel Valverde, agrees. Screening should be "essential in order to prevent health centres being full of people and without capacity limitations". He argues that there should be nurses who can make appointment decisions based on the importance of each case.

The phone system for appointments was introduced at the start of the pandemic, but health centres have never been closed and there have still been appointments in person. This, however, has meant a doubling of work in some instances, because phone appointments have inevitably led to face-to-face consultations because of the nature of the patient's case. The phone calls, says Valverde, "cannot continue because many patients do not like them". On the other hand, "I'm afraid that when the doors open, there will be a riot". Each doctor has some 1,700 patients.

Fernando García Romanos, the president of the Balearic branch of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians, applauds the reintroduction of face-to-face appointments. "The medical code of ethics indicates that correct action implies personal and direct contact between doctor and patient. Clinical practice that is exclusively through telephone consultation is contrary to the norms."

In his opinion, returning to in-person consultations is correct, given the status of the pandemic. While bureaucratic queries can be dealt with over the phone, "assessing patients requires their presence". The alternative means a duplication of work. He is in favour of the patient being able to decide whether to go to a health centre or not.

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