Spanish healthcare could face doctor shortage

Spain could be facing summer health crisis

Doctor on home visit. Credit: Monkey Business Images/

Could a delayed influx of new doctors spell trouble for Spain’s healthcare this summer? The pandemic’s ripple effect continues to challenge the Spanish health system.

The delayed completion of medical residency training for over 5,000 doctors, resulting from the 2020 pandemic disruptions, is poised to hit the country’s healthcare system hard, especially during the summer holiday period of 2024.

In June to September 2024, unlike previous years, these residents will not have completed their training, including those in Primary Care.

This situation, highlighted by the Collegiate Medical Organization (OMC) in a recent report, is expected to create significant challenges in covering the healthcare needs during the staff holiday season and in tourist-heavy areas.

Training dilemmas and workload concerns

As resident doctors typically finish their training in May, the OMC’s report emphasizes the potential consequences of this unusual delay.

There are proposals to either alter the training itinerary of final-year resident doctors to fill these gaps or to speed up the end of their residency. However, these suggestions come with significant concerns.

‘The times established in the training programs of the different specialties must be respected,’ the report states, underscoring their importance in maintaining the quality of Spain’s specialised health training system.

The OMC warns that any deviation could lead to overworking the resident doctors and insufficient rest, jeopardizing their health, job satisfaction, and patient safety.

Seeking sustainable solutions

Domingo Antonio Sanchez, the national representative of young doctors at the OMC, expressed urgency in addressing this issue. Sanchez stated: ‘We are talking about more than 5,000 specialists. What we have done is warn and contextualize to find a solution to this.

‘We are four or five months away and there is no direction or guideline. We are going to find ourselves with a hole in the system that I don’t know how we are going to be able to save without affecting healthcare.’

The ideal solution, according to the OMC, should balance three key aspects: maintaining the quality of patient care, ensuring equitable action across Spain, and safeguarding the rights of doctors in training.

Sanchez assured that the OMC is willing to collaborate with the Ministry of Health to resolve the situation promptly.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.