Public Policy Dynamics Spain #2

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in Spain

Total COVID-19 cases:2,630,000
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:772
14-day change:+220
Total COVID-19 deaths:56,800
14-day rise:3,922
  • The coalition government has undergone major changes this week with the departure of Health Minister Salvador Illa and the new appointment of Carolina Darias as incoming heatlh minister. At a parliamentary level, various discussions have taken place regarding the management of European Recovery Funds and the proposed changes in the appointment of the General Council of the Judiciary.
  • Regions are adopting regulations to address the effects of the pandemic and improve the quality of care for dependent persons. The optimisation of hospital care plans is also being pushed by the authorities in the interests of higher quality and innovation.
  • The cumulative incidence of Covid-19 remains at high levels, with the pressure on health and care of concern in some regions. The vaccination campaign continues, with several regions in the phase of administering the second dose of the vaccine.

Politics

  • At the Federal Committee of the Socialist Party, Salvador Illa announced his decision to leave the Ministry of Health to run as the candidate for the Catalan Socialist Party in the regional elections in Catalonia on 14 February. No major changes are expected in the structure of the Ministry, although it has led to new appointments in the coalition government. Carolina Darias, until now territorial policy minister, is now health minister. The President of the Government has defended her appointment because of her experience in regional territorial policy – she has held various political posts, mainly in the regional administration of the Canary Islands – which would be useful for managing regional coordination in the current Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Miquel Iceta meanwhile will succeed Darias as territorial policy minister.
  • At the parliamentary level, two issues of interest have been discussed in recent days. The decree authorising the Government to manage the European Recovery Funds has been approved, while the bill to modify the selection system for the members of the General Council of the Judiciary (the highest body of the Judiciary) has been tabled for debate.
  • In this regard, the Socialist Party (PSOE) has suggested lowering the majority necessary to elect the members of the General Council of the Judiciary. In response to this, this week Vera Jourová, the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transparency, warned the Government to avoid the politicisation of the Judicial Power and guarantee its independence. The draft law proposal to amend the regulation on appointments to the highest judicial body was debated yesterday (28 January) in the Spanish Congress, resulting in the requirement of a two-thirds majority in both Houses to elect the members of the General Council.

 

Health

  • Several policy decisions are being taken at the national and regional levels to improve home care systems for dependent persons, as well as the quality of care for patients, to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in these areas.
  • To this end, the General Secretary for Social Rights has reached an agreement with business and labour union organisations to improve the Dependency Care System, culminating in an increase of at least €6 billion in financing the system for 2021. The waiting list and application processing times will be substantially reduced and next year all dependents with a recognised degree who live at home will have access to the telecare service.
  • On the regional level meanwhile, regions such as Madrid and Valencia are passing regulations to improve the quality of health care in hospitals. On 20 January, the Community of Madrid has approved a Patient Safety Decree. This has three basic elements: the Patient Safety Plan, the Patient Safety Commission and the Patient Safety Officer, who will help citizens to resolve their doubts and channel their complaints.

 

COVID-19

  • For the first time in three weeks, the cumulative incidence has dropped slightly to 889 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, although the pressure on the healthcare system remains high. The new Minister of Health Carolina Darias is participating in a hearing in the Congress today (29 January) in an extraordinary committee as the Government and the regions go through the third wave of the pandemic.
  •  At the same time, the vaccination campaign continues, slightly slowed by fears around the inadequate supply of second doses. 1,400,000 vaccines have been received so far in Spain, of which 77% have been administered.
  • In its latest report, the OECD has classified Spain in third place vis-à-vis the number of clinical studies with drugs against Covid-19, and in sixth position in terms of the number of contributions in scientific publications on the same subject throughout 2020.

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