The Government of Spain reinforces the equity and universality of the National Health System

Council of Ministers - 2022.6.14

Moncloa Palace, Madrid

Isabel Rodríguez, Carolina Darias and Diana Morant appear before the media during the press conference after the Council of Ministers. | Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The Council of Ministers has agreed to submit to Parliament the Draft Bill amending various regulations to consolidate the Equity, Universality and Cohesion of the National Health System (SNS).

The Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, stressed that the law strengthens the National Health System as a basic pillar of the welfare state, extends citizens' rights and recovers others that had been suppressed. Its aim, she said, is to "improve people's lives and protect the most vulnerable" and to make "an investment in health, which is a guarantee for the society of the present and especially of the future".

The new regulation responds to the commitments of the investiture and the government pact, is included among the reforms of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and includes sixteen of the proposals of the Opinion of the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction approved in the Lower House of Parliament.

Equity, Universality and Cohesion of the NHS

The Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, during her speech at the press conference after the Council of Ministers | Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Carolina Darias stressed that the text approved is based on upholding the value of the public sector, which is why it defends public health and direct management as the model to be followed in the National Health System. This direct management is carried out by state, regional and local public administrations, the entities that make up the institutional public sector, or exclusively publicly owned consortia.

Indirect management will be allowed only in certain cases: "The law establishes the exceptions that enable indirect management under a complementary and supportive vision, never as a substitute, and always objectively motivated and only when direct management is not possible," Darias said.

Another important aspect is the recovery of the single common portfolio of services, which includes all public benefits and establishes the necessary guarantees so that no new health co-payments can be reintroduced. In this area, co-payments for orthopaedic and prosthetic assistance are eliminated for the groups already exempt from pharmaceutical co-payments, specifically people receiving the Minimum Basic Income, low-income pensioners, minors with recognised disabilities, and people claiming benefits for dependent children.

Likewise, the right to publicly funded health care is recognised for reunited immediate relatives when they have a son or daughter entitled to health care in the SNS and there is no third party obliged to pay; for Spanish people of origin residing abroad during their trips to our country, as well as for their relatives; for people seeking international protection; for people seeking and benefiting from temporary protection; and for victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation.

The minister explained that the law also guarantees that the right to health protection and healthcare for people who are not registered or authorised as residents in Spain is exercised with the same requirements and conditions in all autonomous communities. Rehabilitation for people with functional impairments in the health and social-health fields is likewise regulated in a homogeneous manner.

Last, the minister listed other new features such as the consolidation of the participation of patients, professional associations and other groups in the Open Health Forum, which has become a permanent body of the Interterritorial Council of the NHS; the mandatory assessment of the impact on health of the Government's legislative initiatives; and the processing of health data in aspects not regulated by the Organic Law on the Protection of Personal Data and Guarantee of Digital Rights.

Oral Health Action Plan

The Government has approved the extension of the common portfolio of oral health services in the National Health System, thereby increasing the benefits that were previously included and standardising them throughout the country.

Carolina Darias stressed that this Oral and Dental Action Plan will benefit around 7 million people and will be allocated almost 44 million euros, the distribution of which among the autonomous communities will be agreed at the Interterritorial Council of the NHS.

The Plan includes preventive actions such as mouth cleaning and caries prevention, as well as care actions, and includes special attention to specific groups such as children under the age of 14, pregnant women, and those suffering from cervico-facial cancer.

The minister recalled that improving oral health is a commitment of the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, that is included in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and complies with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation to combat the increase in oral pathologies and their influence on diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, obesity and premature births.

Plan for the Attraction and Retention of Scientific and Innovative Talent

The Minister for Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, during her speech at the press conference after the Council of Ministers | Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The Minister for Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, has informed that the Council of Ministers has approved the Plan to Attract Scientific and Innovative Talent to Spain, which will mobilise 3 billion euros over the next 18 months.

The document contains 30 measures to promote the incorporation of international personnel in the Spanish Research, Development and Innovation system and to guarantee the retention of talent. "We need the scientists who left to come back, and we need to keep those who are here and attract the best scientists," the minister stressed.

Diana Morant explained that the initiatives are divided into three axes. The first aims to create more opportunities and better conditions for researchers to develop their scientific careers in universities and public research organisations.

The second axis aims to remove extraordinary barriers for scientists abroad and creates new incentives to attract international talent to the public sector. The minister pointed out that only 3% of the staff of Spanish universities are foreign, while in countries such as the United Kingdom this figure rises to 32%.

The third axis aims to promote the incorporation of innovative international scientific talent in the private sector. Morant stressed that the plan is not limited to the public system, but aims to attract innovative talent to Spanish companies, which will require close public-private collaboration, which is already in place thanks to the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

Most relevant actions

This year, the State Research Agency has a budget that is double that of 2020, which means, according to the minister, "more calls for research, more contracts and better equipment and infrastructure" in research centres.

The Minister for Science also announced that administrative burdens will be reduced, double affiliations will be allowed in national and foreign universities and centres, and calls will be launched to consolidate the professional careers of young scientists, who will be able to access a permanent position after completing their post-doctoral training.

Diana Morant explained that the processes for the accreditation of teaching staff, the certification of research staff and the equivalence of foreign degrees with national degrees will be simplified. Selection procedures and tests will be able to be carried out in English for people who are not resident in Spain. In addition, the deadlines for selective tests and the resolution of calls for applications will be shortened.

"We will value experience abroad so that our displaced scientists and other scientists from abroad do not leave their backpack of merits behind, and we will do so in the form of salary supplements," the minister stated.

Another of the initiatives anticipated by the minister is that consolidated research staff joining from abroad will have greater resources to cover the costs of setting up their laboratory, or just their equipment, in Spain.

The aid will be extended to the recruitment of research personnel in the private sector, the creation of start-ups and companies led by women.

In the minister's opinion, these measures will improve Spain's position in terms of scientific and innovative talent and will retain the skills we already have in the system: "We want to move from a talent drain to a talent pipeline capable of improving people's lives.

Diana Morant argued that this is the ideal time to promote this plan because European funds from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan are being concentrated in strategic sectors and scientific and technical professions that demand talent. Similarly, she added, we are in a context of generational change in universities and public research organisations, where 20,000 professors and researchers are expected to retire by 2030.

There is also strong international competition to attract scientific talent and we are witnessing a reactivation of the labour market, which is demanding this type of professional.

In this context, the minister recalled that the Executive has increased the rate of replacement of posts to 120%, which means that for every 10 professionals who retire in the public science system, 12 new ones are added. The government has also doubled the budget for pre- and post-doctoral contracts. "Before the end of this legislature, we will have created 12,000 new research staff positions, including the public employment offer and these contracts," she said.

Space Council

The Government has approved the creation of the Space Council, an interministerial body responsible for drawing up the statutes and initial action plan of the future Spanish Space Agency.

The Minister for Science and Innovation has outlined that the Council has the mandate to prepare the launch of the agency for the beginning of next year.

Spain is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not have its own space agency, the creation of which is approved in the National Security Strategy. Morant stressed that the future agency is a clear commitment to the aerospace sector, a key sector due to its weight in the overall industrial production, the traction it exerts on the innovative ecosystem and its ability to transform the economy and the labour market.

European funds for energy, sustainability and environment

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, during her speech at the press conference after the Council of Ministers | Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, explained that the Canary Islands will receive 302 million euros and the Balearic Islands 197 million euros from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan to carry out the 'Sustainable Energy Strategy in the Canary Islands' and the 'Investment Plan for the Energy Transition of the Balearic Islands'.

These plans include energy transition actions to reduce the excessive dependence on fossil and petroleum-based fuels in both island territories, and to promote renewable energy and self-consumption facilities and charging infrastructures for electric vehicles.

The archipelagos, together with Ceuta and Melilla, will also be beneficiaries of the 110 million euros from the NextGenerationEU funds for the improvement of the tourism competitiveness of the non-mainland territories. "The aim is to seek higher quality tourism and not so much quantity tourism," said Rodríguez.

The spokeswoman also explained that the Government has authorised the proposed distribution of 174.5 million euros of European funds for the preservation of water resources among the autonomous communities of Ceuta and Melilla. The next Environment Sectoral Commission will ratify this allocation.

The funds will be used for interventions to protect and adapt to flood risk and environmental integration in urban areas and for the improvement and digitalisation of the water cycle.

Taking stock of the Ukraine crisis

The government has analysed a report on the first 100 days of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the migration crisis caused by the war.

The document shows that Spain has taken in 125,000 displaced persons, of whom 48,000 already have a health card, and 22,000 minors are in schools.

The spokesperson highlighted the "rapid and ambitious" response offered by the Government of Spain in collaboration with the autonomous communities and the care and referral centres, with offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga.

Current Affairs

During her speech at the press conference following the Council of Ministers, Isabel Rodríguez stressed that as of today the price cap on gas for electricity generation will be applied.

The Iberian exception will be in force for one year and will reduce the electricity bills of the almost 11 million households and companies on the regulated tariff (PVPC) by around 20%, so that those who pay around 100 euros will pay between 83 and 85 euros, according to the spokesperson's estimates. In addition, the gas price cap will cushion the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) "by reducing it by around one point".

Non official translation