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Additional contact tracers and more phone lines in primary health care

Regional government spokesman  Elías Bendodo.
Regional government spokesman Elías Bendodo. / Europa Press
  • The regional government expands the working hours of the Salud Responde service operators to 5,325 a month

The situation in primary health care and the Salud Responde service should return to normal "in a few days," the Junta de Andalucía's spokesman Elías Bendodo said this week, announcing a shock plan to "unblock" the delays in medical attention, especially in Malaga, Seville and Granada, where it can take two weeks to get an appointment in some cases.

The plan includes taking on more staff for tracing Covid-19 infections and extending working hours at Salud Responde. Bendodo said that until November, operators at Salud Responde will be working about 5,325 hours a month to unblock the situation.

Health centres will also have to extend the times at which personal or telephone appointments are available, when there is a delay of 48 to 72 hours for five consecutive days to see or speak to a doctor. This applies to primary health care and specialist units.

In addition there will be more drive-in coronavirus tests available. Bendodo said the Junta has acquired one million rapid tests at a cost of five million euros, and these will be provided to primary health care, emergency departments, care homes and medical professionals. He guaranteed that they are as effective as PCR, and the result comes through in 15 minutes, which saves a great deal of time.

He also announced that 100 new workers are being taken on to trace contacts of positive Covid-19 cases when an outbreak is detected.

In addition to the 8,200 tracers currently available for this task, the Junta requested another 370 from the Military Emergencies Unit, and the Ministry of Defence has agreed to assign between 200 and 250.

With these and the 100 new professionals the Junta is taking on, Bendodo is confident that the outbreaks can be kept under control. The 100 tracers will work from two newly created call centres in Seville and Granada, but will cover the whole of Andalucía. There will also be a support call centre, with 30 operators.

The regional government insists that Andalucía is below the national average for positive tests per 100,000 inhabitants. Bendodo also pointed out that there are fewer than 1,000 people in hospital with the virus, while on 30 March the figure peaked at 2,780 patients in hospital and 500 in intensive care.