LOCAL health centres throughout Castellon Province are reporting severe problems caused by the fifth COVID wave currently sweeping the Valencia region.
Spokespeople for the public service reveal that they are so overrun with cases that appointments are being delayed up to three weeks in some cases and patients are having severe difficulties contacting their GP.
Municipal health centres are responsible for the diagnosis, follow-up and tracing of positive cases, which has forced them to prioritise coronavirus-related work over regular service involving chronic patients and others requiring different types of treatment.
In Castellon city, the most saturated centre is Palleter, with three-week delays for in-person visits to family doctors.
Users of centres in Almassora and Peñiscola are facing waits averaging one week, while strangely appointments in Benicassim – despite having a nocturnal curfew in place due to a sharp increase in cases predominantly among young people – are only being delayed a mere four days.
Telephone assistance by front desk staff is also being severely affected, which is a major problem mainly for elderly patients who do not have access to the internet or the regional Health department mobile app.
Spokespeople for healthcare trades unions highlight staff shortages as the main cause for the problems, also warning of a possible domino effect – if health centres become oversaturated, the pressure will then be transferred to hospital emergency units, as patients can no longer be treated by their local primary care service.
Regional President Ximo Puig confirmed that hospital admissions due to COVID-related complications have shot up throughout the Valencian Community, calling for ‘personal responsibility’ and warning that ‘the nightmare is still with us’.