the hot summer of Sicilian healthcare

Mass renewal of contracts for the pandemic, but there are those who protest at the gaps in staff

PALERMO – “The staff is necessary to face extraordinary and urgent needs deriving from the spread of Covid”, so wrote Antonino Di Benedetto, medical director of the Ingrassia hospital in Palermo a few days ago. This is the response to the request for reconnaissance made by the ASP of Palermo to evaluate the advisability of renewing fixed-term contracts. This is an example to be replicated in series for Sicilian hospitals. Result: there was a mass renewal of contracts expired at the end of June, except for very rare cases, despite the fact that the pandemic is slowing down.

Change strategy

Fortunately, the numbers of infections and hospitalizations are very low, but according to the health directorates, dismantling the organizational machine is a risk that cannot be run. The regional councilor Ruggero Razza also said this, however, arguing the need to reshape the work. As in the case of the Usca, whose doctors will be engaged in a new phase of the vaccination campaign. The administrations are in sharp decline and then we think of an activity at home, especially in small towns, and in holiday places.

An army of workers with Co.Co.Co contracts or with VAT. In Palermo alone, 30 million euros will be needed to pay salaries until next 31 October. Not only in the structures under the jurisdiction of the Palermo ASP, but also in the Cervello and Civico hospitals.

At the end of the reconnaissance the general director of the ASP Daniela Faraoni gave the green light to renew the contracts. Many of the employees, who weigh in the budget of via Cusmano, are at the disposal of the extraordinary commissioner for the Covid emergency in the city, Renato Costa. The numbers are at the basis of the clash between commissioner and general manager.

An army of temporary employees

Here is the list of workers: 21 professional educators (of which 11 at the hub of the Mediterranean Fair), 22 social workers (12 in the hub), 212 administrative assistants (141 at the Fair and the rest between Bagheria, Cefalù, Villa delle Ginestre, Partinico, Ingrassia, Termini Imerese, in the vaccination hubs of Misilmeri and Centro La Torre), 55 engineers (49 work in the structure managed by Costa), 102 doctors (20 at the Fair and the others in the ASP hospitals), 62 administrative collaborators (once again the largest share concerns the Fair: 42), 336 IT experts (256 at the Fair).

To these numbers must be added those of the Covid Hospital del Cervello (where 546 professional figures remain in service, including doctors, health and administrative operators) and the Civic where the number rises to over 640 people.

The disproportion between the staff in force at the ASP of Palermo and the commissioner structure created tensions. Costa has decided to centralize all the provincial Usca at the Fair, and the general management replied with a note challenging the “unilateral” decision of the commissioner, claiming the work done so far.

The discontent

Healthcare is a boiling sector. And bad moods brood. While the contracts for Covid are being renewed, the Sicilian health companies and hospitals are currently re-discussing organic plants with the regional councilor for health Ruggero Razza. It is about the health-care personnel who have nothing to do with fighting the pandemic.

And the controversies are already mounting. “The new organic plants of Sicilian hospitals do not comply with the minimum levels necessary to guarantee the safety of patients and health workers – say from the Nursind union – international studies confirm that each nurse can take care of 6 patients for better care, in Sicily we continue to entrust from 10 to 20 with all the risks and problems of the case. The personnel units must be raised immediately by at least 20 per cent ”.

The protest of the trade unions

According to the union, “The coefficients have remained in the pre-pandemic era and the staff not only continue to be exhausted, but in many cases have been further reduced especially for intensive care. There are operating theaters with only one nurse while the council guidelines provide for at least 2 per room, while the parameter of 1.8 nurses for each doctor is not respected and also falls to 1.39 nurses from the ASP of Catania and to 1, 70 at the Civic with an average of about 1.55 nurses for each doctor “.

Another open front is that of 118. There is an ultimatum of the unions in government and Ars: without a convocation by July 15, new protest actions will be triggered. This was announced by Cobas, Confintesa, Mud, Fials and Fsi-Usae who last month had demonstrated in Piazza Parliament in Palermo in the presence of over a thousand 118 operators.

Recruitments, level progressions, shots of seniority, closure of positions in eastern Sicily: the front of the claims is wide.

This post is also available in: English