The Social Court number 5 of Alicante has sentenced this Tuesday to the Ministry of Health of the Valencian Community to compensate with amounts ranging from 5,000 to 49,180 euros to doctors who worked during the first wave of the pandemic without the suitable protective equipment.
The ruling directly affects 54 workers in the province of Alicante who have filed claims for lack of protection between the months of March and June 2020, in a complaint that has been articulated since Medical Union. But the sentence opens the door for all those health workers who worked under the same conditions in any part of the Spanish territory You can file a complaint to try to get compensation as well.
In fact, there are already another 3,000 requests for compensation from physicians throughout the Valencian Community, as confirmed to EL ESPAÑOL CESM Valencia’s lawyer, Guillermo Llago. Ensures that any professional who will work during the first wave of Covid-19 On the front line without the proper protective materials you could file a lawsuit in similar terms. Therefore, lawsuits could now be filed even in the individual exercise of each doctor or nurse.
At this time, several unions are aware that similar complaints have been filed in different autonomies, but they do not dare to put an exact figure. Llago goes further and states that if they have already won the lawsuit or are in the process of doing so, “you can request compensation because the law does not oblige to request them unified “.
The sentence is a novelty in legal terms, inasmuch as it is the first that unifies the violation of the law on the prevention of occupational hazards with the indemnification right derived from the law. “There were precedents in health issues and we consider that here it was to raise it together and we have been right,” explains Llago.
The sentence of the Alicante court is very harsh with the performance of the Valencian Administration. It considers that, in essence, “it incurred in late and defective compliance with the occupational risk prevention measures.”
“This breach supposed an evident moral or non-pecuniary damage to the detriment of the plaintiff workers, translated into the suffering and anguish that working in insufficient conditions from the point of view of safety entailed, with risk and danger to their health and those close to them. to them “, adds the judge.
If more complaints are filed in this regard, it would put the Health of several Autonomous Communities against the ropes, because the lack of sanitary material for the protection of professionals (EPI, masks, gowns …) was the usual trend during the first wave of the pandemic.
It is impossible to make an analysis of the number of professionals who could request compensation because it would be necessary to prove that they were in the front line, lack of material, etc .; but the number of professionals practicing in the whole of the Spanish health system is very high.
According to official data from the Ministry of Health, as of December 31, 2021 there were 158,000 doctors, 198,000 nurses and 330,000 professionals such as assistants, orderlies … If we take into account only those who work in emergency services and emergencies (112 The 061) the figure is reduced: 3,000 doctors, 3,000 nurses and 16,000 professionals with orderlies or assistants. They, just like the ones in hospital care, they had to come face to face with the virus.
Regarding hospital professionals, the figures are already higher: 277,000 other professionals, 154,000 nurses and 85,000 doctors.
CESM Valencia’s lawyer explains that although the health workers have not yet filed a claim after more than a year after the events, it is not an impediment to request compensation. And it is that, according to the social jurisdiction, “any worker has a prescriptive year”, but being statutory personnel “they have a four-year prescription.”
The ruling of this Tuesday ratifies a previous sentence of October 2020 of the same court and that was annulled by the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ) of the Valencian Community when considering that it should be issued again including the amount of compensation.
The judge accepts the compensation requested by the plaintiffs, considering that “their quantification is proportionate to the circumstances.” The slightest of these compensation is 5,000 euros.
From there the amounts rise: 15,000.00 euros for each of the workers who were subjected to isolation due to contact with those affected by Covid-19; 35,000.00 euros for each of the workers who were infected with Covid-19, but did not require hospital admission; and 49,180.00 euros for each of the workers infected with Covid-19 and who required hospital admission.
The sentence is added to the crusade that the medical union (in its national aspect) has open against the former Minister of Health, Salvador Illa. In September 2021, the Court of Instruction number 14 of Madrid opened preliminary proceedings against the former minister for the complaint filed by the union after the scandal of defective masks during the first moments of the pandemic.
The judge’s order on Illa indicates that preliminary proceedings must be initiated for the alleged crime against the rights of workers, for which it requires that the Public Prosecutor’s Office be transferred to report on the competence of this body or the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, taking into account the character of the defendant as a gauge.