FIVE health unions have signed a deal with the Valencian Health Ministry to improve primary health care working conditions in the region.
The package includes introducing a maximum number of patients seen per day by family doctors and the launch of a 35-hour working week by January 1, 2025.
Achieving the reduced hours will cost €130 million with at least 2,500 extra staff needing to be taken on.
Valencian Health Minister, Miguel Minguez, said: “I’ve worked for 40 years in the Valencian health system and this agreement is the most important since the late 1980’s when health responsibilities were delegated to the regions.”
The main union representing regional doctors, the CESMCV, has not approved the package, calling it an ‘electoral gimmick’ ahead of May’s Valencian elections.
CESMVC general secretary, Jesus Gil, said the measures were ‘ambiguous’ and that he needed to study the ‘fine print’.
The union has protests planned for March 29 and a strike called for April 3 remains in place.
“We hope the Ministry will contact us to negotiate because we want to reach an agreement,” said Gil.
The deal signed on Monday by the other unions with Miguel Minquez covers doctors, nurses, and other health staff across the Valencian Community.
It puts a ceiling of a maximum 35 appointments per day for a family doctor and 25 in pediatrics.
A triage system- similar to those in hospital emergency departments- would be established in health centres to establish who needs to see a doctor.
The majority of the changes-with the exception of working week hours- will be introduced in the second-quarter of this year.
Rosa Atienzar of the CCOO-PV union commented: “This lays the foundations for improving the system in the post-pandemic era.”