European Union of Private Hospitals

Spanish private hospitals hired 5,000 professionals in 2020 despite the strong impact of COVID-19

JUNE 2021 – The Spanish Private Health Alliance (ASPE) has measured in a complete report the impact of the pandemic in its 288 general hospital centers (those with the highest incidence due to the pandemic) during 2020. The study concludes that: the Spanish private health sector has faced extreme difficulties, with an unprecedented reduction in ordinary activity and dealing with extraordinary cost overruns related to COVID-19.

Despite the difficulties, general hospitals (62% of all private hospitals in Spain) increased their workforce by 6% in 2020 compared to the previous year, incorporating 5,000 new professionals, both healthcare (73%) and non-healthcare (27 %). However, the complexity of the situation experienced by private health professionals is manifest: 1 out of 4 (26.3%) have been sick due to COVID-19.

Carlos Rus, President of ASPE
Even so, the activity of private healthcare in the care of COVID patients has been enormously intense. In Spain, almost 1 out of 3 hospitalized patients have been treated in private hospitals during 2020 (either by insurance, mutual or derived from the public). In total, 63,246 were hospitalized (30%) out of the total of 211,064 collected in the official data of the Spanish Ministry of Health. Likewise, 29% of those affected who until December 31, 2020 have required ICU care in Spain have been treated in private (5,256 patients out of 18,251).
Almost 1 out of 3 hospitalized patients in Spain have been treated in private hospitals during 2020
On the other hand, all areas of ordinary care were affected in an unprecedented way over the past year: surgical interventions decreased by 14%; emergencies 26%; external consultations 9%; hospital admissions 14%; and ICU income 16%.
In addition, private general hospitals have invested 312% more in products related to the protection of professionals, in a context of hyperinflation that has meant paying an average of 1,100% more in the price of masks in 2020 compared to 2019.
The coronavirus crisis has proven to be the largest real public-private healthcare collaboration campaign in the history of Spanish healthcare. From the private health sector we have given ourselves thoroughly from the first day in making all our resources available to the health authorities: from infrastructures and personnel to suppliers and supply of material against covid-19, through the establishment of differentiated circuits for care for other illnesses. We have done it under a principle of unquestionable solidarity given the circumstances we were experiencing.
Once the most critical period of the pandemic has passed, and when the time has come to assess the structural damages of the crisis, we have asked for the compensations that we have considered fair, under the same criteria of solidarity and for the survival of our companies and their companies. Professionals, who have suffered a severe economic impact due to the intervention and paralysis of all ordinary activities that forced confinement.

The Government of Spain has recognized us for our strategic collaboration in the fight against COVID-19 but has left the decision on aid and compensation for the work carried out throughout the pandemic at the discretion of each region, alluding to the ‘Extraordinary Covid-19 Fund ‘of 16,000 million euros distributed among them and of which 70% should be used in healthcare and education. This has placed us in a complex situation of 17 different regional scenarios and in which, in most of them, it has still been impossible to reach agreements.
The Government of Spain has recognized our strategic collaboration but has left the decision on compensation at the discretion of each region

The main risks that threaten the current Spanish healthcare model are diverse: the increase in life expectancy, which translates into a noticeable increase in chronic diseases, and that represents more than 80% of current healthcare spending; the increase in waiting lists and the shortage of professionals. The future model must focus on the person, on their needs, on the population risks described, and employing digitization and new technologies to create effective information services. In short, putting the patient at the center of the system so that healthcare is integrated and make better use of the different resources.
Strengthening public-private collaboration in the Spanish National Health System is the only way to provide it with flexibility and make it sustainable. Our mission is to contribute to the strengthening of health in our country and to the survival of the health entities and professionals we represent, more than 312,000.