Now that we are in the middle of the holiday season where towns throughout Spain are filled with people, it may be a good time to reflect on the importance of rural medicine or “village doctors”, an essential group that is very close to becoming an endangered species.
I am a rural doctor and I dare to say that rural medicine is the most beautiful, the closest and perhaps the greatest exponent of what the doctor-patient relationship means. So what is going on? Why don’t doctors choose primary care and even fewer want to work in rural areas?
There are many reasons such as lack of time, huge quotas, not covering sick leave or vacations of colleagues, low pay and, especially, the precariousness of the contracts. Unfortunately, these conditions are a common denominator of the medical profession in practically the majority of specialties, but rural medicine encounters many other factors that make it less attractive and involve overexertion. Just as an example, 88% assume travel expenses to make medical visits or to attend emergencies, more than half have their reference hospital more than 30 kilometers away and almost two thirds face digitization problems in their work centers.
To this must be added that only 14% of rural doctors are under 40 years old. What are we going to do? In full swing of the movement of what is called the ’emptied Spain’ it is essential to support and encourage the positions of primary care doctors.
We cannot assume that hundreds of places will be deserted of specialized health training in the specialty of Family and Community Medicine because this implies leaving patients in many locations in our country without care, because this is a brake on any strategy designed to promote rural life and because it cracks our national health system at its root: primary care. There are many proposals, but there is a lack of political will.
Rural medicine goes beyond the profession, as stated in the motto of the latest campaign by the General Council of Physicians of Spain to value this group and warn of the danger they are running. Now that the towns are full of people and life Let’s think about the seriousness that the disappearance of the village doctor can have for everyone and defend primary care more strongly. Let’s fight for a national health system that guarantees the best quality of care regardless of zip code or number of inhabitantsWe play a lot.