GPs in health centres in La Axarquía, Antequera and the Costa del Sol are testing a new scheme from the regional government's ministry of Health this week that means that they are able to spend more time with each patient. The aim is to restructure the doctors' working day and improve the service in general.
Doctors at the Vélez Sur, Algarrobo, Antequera, Antequera-Estación and La Lobilla health centres have been told they can now spend at least seven minutes with each patient, half an hour a day on tele-medicine, 15 minutes for programmed and complicated patients and also make time for research and training.
Under the new plan, GPs will see a maximum of 30 patients with pre-booked appointments a day, which in some cases is about half the present number.
The Junta de Andalucía's Minister for Health and Families, Jesús Aguirre, says this is in response to doctors' wishes, as they want to be able to dedicate more time to patient consultations, and it will also mean they can include training as part of their normal working day because some administrative tasks such as issuing certificates will now be handled by other staff.
The regional government's Health representative in Malaga province, Carlos Bautista, says that health centres cover 80 per cent of patients' needs, and that this reorganisation "is absolutely vital because it will relieve the existing pressure on hospital emergency departments".
Other improvements are also to be put in place, and Bautista says that additional staff are to be employed in health centres.
In terms of the Junta's budget for running health centres in the region, he says the aim is for this to be increased to 20 per cent of the total spending on health, which is four percent higher than at present.