The Spanish Private Healthcare Alliance welcomes the progress on the creation of a state public health agency recently moved to parliamentary procedure. This is a body that was already contemplated in the General Law on Public Health of 2011 (article 47) but whose approval never came to pass. It was not until the emergence of a health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic that it was decided to take up the initiative again. The first step was taken two years ago, during the Reconstruction Commission held in the Congress of Deputies in June 2020.
On the one hand, the Draft Bill for the creation of a State Public Health Agency (AESAP) approved by the Council of Ministers on 23 August – after the consultation process – establishes an obligation for public and private bodies to “provide information to fulfil the purposes of the agency and to assess the state of preparedness of the National Health System and the private sector” and states that the information to be provided will also be established in regulatory standards.
The president of ASPE, Carlos Rus, considers this measure “reasonable”, as in some way it “seeks to avoid the improvisation of the pandemic and the difficulties that have arisen with regard to the provision of information by the autonomous communities, given the regulatory vacuum that has existed up to now”.
However, it is striking that when defining the aims of the future AESAP, there is no call for the participation of the private health sector, as an integral part of the National Health System. Specifically, in the objective included in the draft bill, which refers to “promoting networking with all the resources available in the General State Administration, regional and local administrations, academic and research entities, to articulate a comprehensive health policy, guaranteeing health safety and addressing present and future public health challenges in a solvent manner”.
While waiting for the statutes to be drawn up within the first six months of its approval, as required by law, which will regulate the organisational structure, expressing the composition, functions, competencies and administrative rank corresponding to each body, ASPE trusts that the Ministry of Health will create an inclusive consultative body in which neither the private health sector nor any other agent that can provide useful information and experience when it comes to articulating preventive strategies for public health emergencies will be left out.
One in three COVID patients treated
It should be remembered that one out of every three patients hospitalised by Covid in Spain was treated in private healthcare, either by insurance, mutual insurance companies or derived from the public sector: 63,800 hospitalised out of 211,064 – with data as of 31 December 2020 – i.e. 30.2%. In addition, 29% of those affected who required ICU care (5,302 patients out of 18,251) were treated in private healthcare centres.
“This type of data endorses our contribution in a health emergency of the magnitude of the one we have experienced”, recalls Carlos Rus, “which should be enough to be able to contribute our experience in any advisory body oriented towards the health of the population as a whole”, he concludes.