Only six health centres will be open in the afternoons this summer. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

Malaga health centres forced to cut hours due to shortage of doctors

ÁNGEL ESCALERA MALAGA.

Of the 26 health centres in Malaga city, only six will be open in the late afternoon and early evening through the busy summer months. The remaining 20 will only work from 8am to 3pm. The reason for these early closing hours is due to the difficulty of finding doctors to replace those who choose to take their holidays during the peak summer period. Therefore it has been decided to close most of the city's health centres in the afternoons until normality returns on Monday, 19 September.

The Andalusian public health service (SAS) has problems every year finding suitably qualified medical professionals available to work in its health centers during the summer season, a period in which a large proportion of the workforce take their holidays.

"It is not a question of money, but of a lack of doctors," said the territorial delegate for Health and Families, Carlos Bautista, who described this situation as "historic and recurring", since it has been happening for years.

"The staff need to rest and have vacations," said Bautista, adding that given the impossibility of making all the necessary substitutions, they opt for the closure of health centres in the afternoons.

One of the biggest problems is that many contracts offered are short term. "We have to retain the doctors with long-term contracts, decent pay and better working conditions," said the president of the College of Physicians in Malaga, Pedro Navarro.