Health cuts, the main stumbling block in coronavirus crisis management

According to an opinion published in 'The Lancet Public Health' by IRBLleida researchers and UdL faculty.

Health cuts in recent years and tensions between central government and regional administrations are the main stumbling blocks in Spain's management of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, which causes COVID-19 disease, according to one comment. Posted on Wednesday, March 18, at The Lancet Public Health by Nursing Teachers from the universities of Lleida (UdL), Alicante, Singapore National, Toronto (Canada) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ( United Kingdom). In fact, Montse Gea, a professor at the UdL's Faculty of Nursing and Physiotherapy, is also responsible for the IRBLleida Health Care Research Group (GRECS).

The resilience of the Spanish health system against the COVID-19 pandemic  analyzes the management of the health crisis, taking into account six aspects: governance, financing, provision of services, medicines and equipment, health staff and information to the population. The opinion highlights underfunding "with the background of at least a decade of austerity from which the health care system is yet to recover." The commentary thus covers aspects such as the inadequate capacity of intensive care units, the lack of mechanical ventilators to supplement respiratory function, the scarcity of protective masks or the extension of healthcare staff, with short templates and low salaries.

“Already, at least five important lessons can be drawn from the Spanish experience. First, additional financial resources are needed to support regional health systems, each with different initial resources and current challenges. Second, long-term underinvestment in health services, as seen in many countries following the 2008 financial crisis, impairs their resilience by depleting their ability to respond to surges in need for health care with sufficient health professionals, intensive care unit beds, protective equipment, diagnostic test kits, and mechanical ventilators. Third, although Spanish residents do seem largely to have responded responsibly so far, it will be important to draw on evidence from behavioural sciences to ensure that this conduct continues over what could be many months. Fourth, although coordination between the national and regional governments has generally been good, work will be needed to ensure this continues over the next few months, with an understanding that politicians must not be allowed to exploit the situation for political gain. Finally, once the pandemic is over, Spain will need to address the decade of underinvestment in its previously strong health sector, which has left it struggling at this time of crisis.”

Information: UdL Office Press


Article The resilience of the Spanish health system against the COVID-19 pandemic