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The AEP calls for the recognition of pediatric specialists

More than six million children and adolescents in Spain are treated in health centers and hospitals by pediatric specialists who are not officially recognized. For this reason, the Spanish Association of Paediatrics (AEP) warns: the excellence of children’s health is at stake.

A claim that takes place during Pediatrics Week (October 3 to 7) under the slogan “Children also need pediatric specialists” and a call to action “Excellence in child health care is at stake. Will you help us not to lose it?”.

The AEP, with the 24 pediatric specialty societies and the 14 regional pediatric societies, is calling, once again, for pediatric specialties to be officially recognized.

“It is the way to guarantee the quality of health care for children and adolescents. Without pediatric specialists, the future of our boys and girls will be less healthy”, he points out president of the AEP, Dr. Luis Carlos Blesa.

Despite the progress of recent years, “more than six million children and adolescents under the age of 14 in Spain, 13% of the country’s population, do not ‘recognise’ the specialists who attend to them”, adds the president.

In addition, the AEP poses five demands to the health administration:

  • 1. Accrediting specific pediatric training areas as an essential step to ensure quality in the training of paediatricians, to be able to select the best prepared professionals and guarantee an equitable healthcare provision throughout the Spanish territory.
  • 2. A specific training route for primary care pediatricians, with the corresponding recognition, which gives them the role and function that their work deserves within the MIR training program in Paediatrics.
  • 3. Adopt necessary measures to attract pediatric professionals to primary care centers.
  • 4. Work collaboratively on a geographic map where the different needs of pediatric specialists are estimated in relation to the pediatric population to plan the future needs of specialized human resources in pediatric specific capacity areas (ACE) in Spain.
  • 5. The recognition of the Pediatric ACEs so that pediatricians can work on equal terms with their European colleagues and on equal terms in the different Spanish autonomous communities.

The demands of pediatric specialists

According to vice president of Hospital Care of the AEP, Dr. Maria del Mar Rodríguez, the fact that there is no official recognition “implies that there are no minimum training requirements or accreditation, nor is there an official training plan. This situation can not only have an impact on the quality of care, but also limits the homogeneous learning of paediatricians and makes it difficult for them to receive adequate training and updating”.

The progressive deterioration of the situation in primary care paediatrics is another of the points on which the demands of the collective revolve. “Since it is an integral and holistic branch in the conception of the child and the adolescent, it might seem that it does not need specialization. For adults, this function is through the specialty of family medicine, but not so for children and adolescents, since no specific route is contemplated for the figure of the pediatrician in primary care”.

The situation is complicated by the lack of professionals in health center consultations, many of which do not have paediatricians. It is estimated that up to 30% of children are cared for by professionals who are not paediatricians.

According to the AEP, this deficit “contributes to active pediatricians being subjected to overexertion, which means having to attend to more children at the same time, with the consequent risk of making mistakes and affecting patient safety”.

One of the examples is the allergology specialty. Currently, there are only 62 pediatric allergology units in Spain (taking public and private centers into account), a number that is “insufficient” since one in four children has some type of allergy.

According to president of the Spanish Society of Clinical Immunology, Allergology and Pediatric Asthma (SEICAP), Dr. Ana Martínez-Cañavate Burgos Pediatric specialists are needed:

  • Because we have comprehensive training for child care; the training route for pediatric allergy specialists is established and has a very comprehensive program that meets European standards.
  • Because we consider it important that children are cared for by staff specially trained to do so, in places and spaces exclusive to pediatric care; both waiting rooms and pediatric consultations are much friendlier environments than those for adults”.
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