The forced resignation of the Minister of Health, Manuel Villegas, does not end the open crisis in this department, far from it. The controversy over the vaccination campaign against Covid has burned all the general directors, both of the Ministry and of the Murcian Health Service. To begin with, because all or almost all were vaccinated, including those who, due to their skills, never or only exceptionally go to healthcare centers. Health also feeds rumors, by refusing to clarify who received the first dose and when, claiming that it is personal and confidential information.
But this is not the only reason. The responsibility for the controversial management of the vaccination campaign splashes on many: from the general director of Public Health, José Carlos Vicente, to the managing director of the Murcian Health Service (SMS), Asensio López. The process has been marked by the lack of clear criteria and has become a drain for senior officials, union leaders, presidents of professional associations and officials who did not meet the requirements established in the Ministry’s protocol.
In Health and in the SMS they are aware that the impact of the crisis has been “brutal”, and inside there is more self-criticism than is transmitted, explains one of the managers. If someone has been left at the trigger, it is Asensio López, not only because of his responsibilities in the vaccination campaign, but above all because his presence in the regional Administration has always been linked to that of the already former councilor. After the last regional elections, Villegas made it an unavoidable condition, to continue in the Ministry, that Asensio López accompany him on the SMS.
Therefore, many took for granted that a resignation would lead to the resignation or termination of the other. However, Asensio López yesterday conveyed to the management teams of the health areas his intention not to resign, understanding that his departure would leave the health system completely headless, which could have serious consequences in the management of the pandemic. Hospitals are already overwhelmed, with ICUs over 100% occupancy. The situation is more critical than ever. For this reason, the SMS leadership believes that it is not the time to leave, but to face the hardest part of the third wave and then, when the storm has passed, “render the necessary accounts,” says a source from this environment.
The decision, of the president
The last word, in any case, is the president of the Community, Fernando López Miras. But a clean sweep at a time like this would be considered by many professionals and by some unions to be insane. «This is not the time to change Asensio López; its management of the pandemic has been good. If there has been a manager who has kicked the health centers, it is him. To Yecla, where I am, he may have come 30 times to inquire about the situation, which is very complicated “, underlines Javier Lanza, secretary general of the Health Federation of CC OO. The unknowns will be resolved soon.
They denounce that the order of priority was not respected in hospitals
The Union of Health Professionals (SPS) disagrees with those who defend the continuity of the managing director. “He must go, like Villegas, because he is also responsible for what happened”, warns Antonio Martínez, general secretary of this organization. The SPS defends the vaccination of the staff of the Murcian Health Service headquarters, in Habitamia, but considers the immunization of the former councilor and other high-ranking officials in the Ministry to be a clear breach of the protocols. The union also denounces that in some hospitals the order of priority established by the Ministry was not respected. The front-line personnel were to receive the doses first, and then the rest. However, some managers “were vaccinated earlier” than priority professionals, says Antonio Martínez.