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“They treat us like third-class toilets. We only matter in a crisis like the covid one”

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A 80% of non-EU doctors in Catalonia, both in the public and private systems, they have not done the MIR exam (resident internal doctor), according to the Col.legi Oficial de Metges de Barcelona (COMB). That does not necessarily indicate that they lack a Medical speciality: though some do not have it, there are many others who do. But the problem is that this title is not always comparable with the Spanish system. Thus, these doctors, mostly Latin Americans and who are not recognized with any specialized qualifications, are considered, they denounce, “third-rate doctors”. Throughout the Institut Català de la Salut (ICS) there are between 9% and 11% of doctors without MIR medical specialty, without distinguishing between foreigners and those born in Catalonia, according to figures from the body itself.

Many foreign doctors, exhausted after years of what they consider a “mistreatment” in their working conditions by the Administration, decide to leave Catalonia and Spain. It is the case of Maigualida Rodriguez, 51-year-old Venezuelan who arrived in Barcelona in 2018 accompanied by her two children. “I have been four years doing substitutions, guards and with contracts for a maximum of six months in the Catalan Institute of Health (ICS)”, complaint.

The dream of “a better life”

Maigualida came out of Venezuela in 2013 “due to economic precariousness and the violation of human rights”. She was residing in Brazil, where she obtained the family doctor specialty. In 2018 he moved to Spain, with a specialist degree and “believing”, at last, that he would have “a better life, job stability”. But it has not been that way.

“When I try to homologate my medical specialty, They tell me that it is better to do the MIR because the other process can take up to six years, He says. However, between the time he settled in the city and obtained his residence permit, Maigualida decides not to do so for the time being. “From there, I start the job search journey, of trying to make a professional name for myself on a continent where I don’t know anyone,” says this doctor.

The homologation of the title of Medicine corresponds to the Ministry of Education and that of specialties, to that of Health, sources from the Ministry of Health point out. Given that for professionals not trained in Spain, validation of the specialty is a more complex bureaucratic process than that of the title, it is common for the different regional health systems to opt for the incorporation of these toilets while processing the homologation. Catalonia and other autonomies have asked Health to convene a extraordinary MIR exam for these people and make a working group to alleviate the lack of professionals, Health sources point out.

Destination: “Where there is work”

Maigualida thus began to make substitutions in the ICS and in the private system. “Me He traveled wherever there was work. I went to Ripollet, did guards up to 24 hours, accepted one day contracts and so on,” he says. After two years (2018 and 2019) “jumping around,” the covid pandemic broke out in March 2020. It was the moment when the lack of resources in the health system was revealed after years of cuts and in that the Ministry of Health began to call retired doctors and student interns to work because there were no hands.

The ICS also called Maigualida: they needed doctors for the Continuous Home Care (ACD). She accepted and began to sign one day contracts, something that lasted throughout 2020, once the first wave had passed. “In November 2020 they made me my first one-month contract”, says the doctor.

“I traveled to wherever there was work. I went to Ripollet, I was on duty for up to 24 hours, I accepted one-day contracts and so on”

She believes that behind all this “disrespect” is the fact that she does not have the MIR and the system considers her a “third-rate doctor.” She assures that she is not the only one in this situation, but that there are “many South American doctors who complain about the same thing as her”: “precarious contracts”, of the lack of “stability”, that not having the MIR is a “nightmare”. Without the MIR, for example, they will never be able to apply for a interim position. “If they really count on you, it is because there is a crisis like covid,” Maigualida denounces.

Read:   Catalan public health faces its future without doctors

six month contracts

Finally, in 2021, after a three-month contract, the ACD, which depends on the ICS, makes a six month contract. “Although they can’t make me interim because I don’t have the MIR, they promise to give me job continuity every six months and they even think, because they told me so, of making me a one-year contract.” With two six-month contracts Maigualida was there all of 2021, but when 2022 arrived, they did not give him a one-year contract like the rest of his teammates, but rather six months.

“You don’t want to stay. You come, you make an effort, you risk your health and there is no way to be treated with respect”

She believes that this comparative offense was a kind of punishment, since it happened one night after having a disagreement with a driver with whom she worked and who opened a incidence. His relationship with the ICS started to get even worse from there. He caught covid-19, developed persistent covid… The last contract offered to Maigualida was last June, for three months, that is, worse even than those who had already been offered. She rejected him and, since the 30th of last month, she no longer has a link with the ICS.

Now he works for a hospital doing guards (“whatever comes out”, he says) and in the Sistema d’Emergències Mèdiques (SEM). Even so, your income has decreased a lot and assures that he does not know in what conditions he will live, because sometimes he has to send money to his brothers and father in Venezuela. And what is the next step that Maigualida will take? “Leave here, not from Catalonia, but from Spain. You don’t feel like staying. You come, you make an effort, you risk your health and there is no way to be treated with respect,” he concludes.

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