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They faced the first wave of Covid without protection: now doctors in Spain will be compensated

Disposable raincoats, consortium bags and even shower caps were the shields with which doctors and nurses faced, in March 2020, the then completely unknown Sars-Cov-2 virus in Spain.

Almost two years later, a court ruling establishes that health workers be indemnified due to the lack of protective equipment against Covid, especially during the first wave of the pandemic.

It was a court in Alicante that penalized the Department of Health of the Valencian Community, which must financially compensate more than 150 doctors who filed the lawsuit for having exercised their profession unprotected.

These compensations, which from 5,000 to almost 50,000 eurosset a precedent in Spain.

“That there is a sentence that gives us the reason when we maintain that the administrations are responsible for not having these teams and for not protecting their professionals seems very positive to us,” he tells Clarion Diego Ayuso, general secretary of the General Nursing Council of Spain.

“The ruling has been in favor of doctors for a lawsuit carried out by a medical union but we hope that the result is the same for the sentences and lawsuits that nurses have presented,” he adds.

Doctors and nurses from a hospital in Navarra, Spain, in May 2020, in a tribute to colleagues killed by Covid-19. Photo: AP

improvised teams

According to Ayuso, during those first months of the health emergency, it was the General Nursing Council that came out to cover the lack of protective material for staff.

“When the first wave of the pandemic emerged here in Spain, we began to denounce the lack of protection. We did not have masks (chinstraps), there was no individual protection equipment -recalls Ayuso-. The nurses and male nurses covered themselves with plastic garbage bags. They improvised to achieve some kind of waterproofing. And we had to buy equipment ourselves. We spent 800 thousand euros in 2020.”

In its ruling, the Alicante court determines compensation of 5,000 euros for workers who were forced to exercise their profession without adequate protection.

A room for patients with coronavirus in a hospital in Madrid, in April 2020. Photo: AFP

A room for patients with coronavirus in a hospital in Madrid, in April 2020. Photo: AFP

For those plaintiffs who were infected, 35,000. And for those who tested positive for Covid and had to be hospitalized, 49,180 euros.

infected doctors and nurses

From the Nursing Council they assure that the Ministry of Health never provided the official figures of health workers who were infected.

“Based on estimates that we made in June 2020, we already had evidence that some 80,000 nurses out of the 275,000 that are currently practicing in Spain had contracted the virus,” Ayuso details.

Health workers, in a convention center converted into a hospital for coronavirus cases in Madrid, in March 2020. Photo: EFE

Health workers, in a convention center converted into a hospital for coronavirus cases in Madrid, in March 2020. Photo: EFE

“Right now, after the sixth wave, we would be talking about 160,000. But they are not official data because we have asked for them but they do not provide them to us, ”she laments.

During the first weeks of this year, 19,300 Spanish nurses participated in the largest survey carried out in the country.

The result was a work that the General Nursing Council entitled “Radiography of the professional and emotional situation of the nursing profession”.

The survey points out the devastating effects on the health of nurses caused by the pandemic: the incidence of Covid infections in these health personnel multiplies by 2.3 that of the general population, 85 percent admit that the health emergency affected their mental health and half of the nurses in Spain are considering leaving their profession.

Madrid. Correspondent

CB

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