Madrid health workers denounce "forced transfers" to the new hospital

"We'll have to go to the Zendal at some point, with some contract, to do some work"

"We have been informed of the misinformation". This is how Belén, a doctor from the 12 de Octubre Hospital in the Madrid neighbourhood of Usera, synthetized the situation that she  and other 51 professionals from this public hospital find themselves in. A week ago, the Health Department of the Community of Madrid notified them - through their managers - that they would have to leave,  whether they wanted to or not,  to the new pandemic hospital called Hospital Isabel  Zendal.

But when, how and to do what? "We only know that at some point we will have to go there, with some contract that we do not yet know, to do some work", answered Belén  to the ARA. She has only been working in the 12 de Octubre Hospital for three months. In her case it was her head of internal medicine who told her the news. "She told me I was one of the nominees", she said, laughing under her mask,  as if it were a quiz show Theirs is one of the "forced transfers" that the region will carry out to fill the new facilities erected by Isabel Diaz Ayuso with health professionals, facilities which have become operational this Friday receiving only one patient, as reported by the Community.

She and a hundred of her colleagues, as well as patients from 12 de Octubre Hospital, have denounced the situation on Thursday at noon in front of the doors of the hospital to protest the referrals. So have 13 other hospitals in Madrid. "Ayuso resignation, Ayuso resignation" or "We all stay" were the chants that the professionals sang to all those who passed in front of the centre and with which they showed their indignation. "Right now it is not useful", added Belén.  Both she and her colleagues consider that at the moment the health congestion in the centre is "much, much, much lower than in August or September". "It doesn't make any sense", the doctor added.

Madrid inaugurates new hospital amidst crowds and protestors

"We feel mistreated by the administration. We are doing our best, trying to get back to normal, and there is no response", said Irene, another doctor who was also notified a week ago that she has to leave her current place. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this feeling has been widespread among professionals in hospitals and health centers in the region, one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Irene returned to work at the 12 de Octubre Hospital two years ago (after her residency),  and said that this new scenario "only deepens the undermanning of the center's staff, which was fatal before the pandemic".

Another area of concern for the health workers is who will do the work of all those who leave. For the moment, no one, because the Health Department has not explained whether it will find doctors to replace the people who are referred. "There are no more people left here, and this will mean even more work load for 
everyone. Either an overload or that the consultations are closed,  but  then, who will visit the patients?" Irene pointed out.

Reorganizing  Christmas

"We've got the schedules and the Christmas holidays set up", exclaimed Belén . A colleague of hers, Raul,  reported that at the gates of the holidays everything was "a mess". "What if they tell us now that one of us has to leave? Well, we don't know if we'll be able to keep the holidays, and this affects both t he working environment and the patients".  He is not on the list of professionals who will be referred to the new hospital, but he was close. "Six internal medicine doctors are being transferred from 12 de Octubre to  Zendal. And I'm number 7 . If someone takes a leave of absence or resigns, I'll have to go", he states . In addition, he lives 40 kilometers from the new hospital, and assures that if he were to change work places it would mean "reorganizing everything".

"Those of us who are staying here are waiting to find out what will happen to our contracts, but above all to our patients", says Pilar, another doctor. She has not been selected yet, but she assures that everyone is afraid: "It's like a roulette". She points out that for weeks they have been asking for meetings with the managers to find out what their situation will be from January 1, since, like many other colleagues, she has one of the famous "covid contracts". These are temporary contracts that the Madrid government established in the context of the pandemic to deal with the most saturated months of hospitalisation, but which end on 31 December without any certainty of renewal. "All attempts [to negotiate] have failed", Pilar told the ARA.

However, controversy is raging around the new pandemic hospital Enfermera Isabel Zendal, which opened on December 1, four weeks after the planned date. Now, the Ministry of Health has stated that the delays in the works will not penalize the companies involved, despite the fact that this is stipulated in the original contracts, as advanced by radio station Cadena SER. The reason, surprisingly, is the rain.