The third time lucky?

With Manel Balcells there are now three Ministers of Health who have visited the facilities of the CAP La Granja-Torreforta to announce its expansion. Toni Comín did it first (2017) and, later, Alba Vergés (2019). All committed themselves to expanding a facility that has become too small. To get an idea, the CAP has the same square meters it had when it was opened, in the 1960s. At that time, the Ponent neighborhoods were beginning to be urbanized. Now, with the growth of this area, the clinic serves almost 28,000 residents. They ended up installing barracks.

After this paragraph –necessary to understand the seriousness of the matter–, let's go back to yesterday. The new Minister of Health of the Generalitat, Manel Balcells, announced in the place that the expansion of CAP La Granja will be a reality in the middle of next year. The works, which will go out to tender on November 18, will cost 5.2 million euros. Everything seems to indicate that this time yes. That the third time is the charm.

The investment has been made thanks to the financing of the European funds REACT-EU, and the execution of works is expected to be completed during the second quarter of next year. Of the 5.2 million euros, 147,000 correspond to equipment.

The new space will have an area of ​​2,671 square metres, distributed over a ground floor plus two upper floors. It will be located where the barracks currently are. It is a piece of land that was municipal property and that, a few months ago, the City Council ceded to the Generalitat in order to carry out the expansion. In these facilities, the pediatric services, the Sexual and Reproductive Health Care (ASSIR), rehabilitation, SEM, general medicine consultations will be transferred and, finally, a room for community activities will be located. This will be the first phase of the project. The second refers, as Balcells detailed yesterday, to fine-tuning other spaces in the facilities "to modernize them".

«We are aware that it is a long-claimed work to serve the neighborhood and the city. Now it is a reality", assured the Minister of Health, who added that "for the Department, primary care is a priority, and announcements like today's confirm the commitment to investment". In addition, Balcells pointed out that this action must be accompanied by "a new, more communal vision of what primary school should be, with a more open mindset and more powerful home care."

The Minister spoke of equipment and facilities, but at no time did he comment on the hiring of new personnel to fill these new spaces. "We must study and analyze if more professionals are necessary or if they are not," he said. The problem that the residents of Ponent have denounced, who complain about the long waiting lists to be visited by the specialist, precisely in this CAP, is well known.

For his part, the mayor of Tarragona, Pau Ricomà, celebrated the irrefutable announcement by the Generalitat to expand the outpatient clinic, but took advantage of the meeting to put on the table some demands from the sector and from the neighbors. “We want the whole city to have the same services. We are looking for a full, unique Tarragona, with no borders or different rhythms of well-being", said Ricomà, who added that "although expanding the equipment was essential, we have also pointed out other things that are important to solve".

Accompanying the authorities was the director of CAP La Granja-Torreforta, Carlos Aguirre. «This extension will allow to value the professional, who will be able to work with more dignity. If the house is nice, the patient will be more comfortable, "Aguirre finished.

The CUAP, on the table

Another issue that was put on the table during the minister's visit was the launch of a CUAP in the city. Unions and users have been denouncing for years that a city like Tarragona does not have a primary care center that works 24 hours a day, uninterruptedly. The lack of CUAP in the capital is a comparative offense with other municipalities in the territory, such as Reus or Salou, which do have one.

“It is an issue that we will analyze in the coming months,” said Balcells, who did not rule out that the CAP La Granja – which now has continuous attention – could end up becoming a CUAP. "Give us time to analyze the healthcare response that we must give, always taking into account the territorial dispersion that characterizes Tarragona," he concluded.

"Shameful attitude"

The municipal group of the PSC has taken advantage of the Minister's announcement to demand more investment in health personnel "and less in electoral promises." The Socialists define Balcells' attitude as "shameful", coming "for the umpteenth time to announce the expansion of CAP La Granja without planning any increase in personnel." The PSC recalls that the residents of the Ponent neighborhoods have been protesting for months for a "decent" CAP and an improvement in services, said the socialist councilor, Mario Soler.

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