[Spain] Public health privatization, the Spanish health nightmare …

August 8, 2020, CNT-AIT, Barcelona, https://www.nodo50.org/cntcatalunya

Never before has there been so much awareness in Spain of the value of public health and of the serious deficiencies it suffers as during this Covid-19 crisis.

In Spain, in 1997 the door was opened to the privatization of public health through Law 15/97 on enabling new forms of management of the National Health System (law LGS). Approved in the Congress of Deputies, this law was a before and after. This law establishes that any health centre and health partner in the Spanish State can be managed through any type of private company. Until then, the General Health Law of 1986 prevented this type of participation by private companies in the public health system … but in its article 90, it says that when the public system did not provide enough, a specific activity could be arranged with private hospitals, as a measure « In extremis ». But under the excuse of modernizing healthcare and being more efficient (sparing resources), private management was introduced. The result was a reduction in beds and health personnel and this produced an increase in waiting lists in public health and an increase in the contracting of private insurance policies.

The waiting lists were used to increase health spending, in conjunction with private clinics, which took advantage of section 90 of the Health System Act. The private sector has drawn up profitable pathology lists, indicating the procedures, tests and operations it agrees to perform and leaving the rest to the public, which are unprofitable. And for these profitable acts, the private sector collects the money intended for public health.

On the other hand, to avoid waiting lists, people who can afford it decide to take out private health insurance and thus have access to the private system. In doing so, they pay double contributions, that of Social Security and that of the private insurer. For those who cannot afford it, there are many who would have needed certain health services, but who have felt the effects of the budget cuts in their flesh. This abandonment of public health is evident now more than ever.

We have witnessed that, while public health was experiencing a scenario of total lack of resources, private health referred [Covid 19] patients to public hospitals and / or closed their centres. We have witnessed that, while public health workers worked endless shifts, private health workers were sent home through Job Retention Scheme. Due to the lack of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), many patients were not admitted in health centres, they were not admitted to hospital neither, but were forced to stay at home or in retirement homes due to lack of beds in public hospitals. We have witnessed the horror of many people dying at home or in retirement homes without being treated, while in privately run hospitals financed with public money, plants or entire centres were closed. We have witnessed how the military took part in a health issue from the beginning … We have witnessed the collapse of the public health system…

We cannot allow this. The only way to stop the dismantling of public health is to save what has been privatized and organize it into a self-managed and universal public health system.


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