Guillermo Burillo returns to serve as head of emergencies at the Canary Islands University Hospital (HUC), the reference hospital for the northern area of Tenerife and for the island of La Palma. He thus returns to the position he already held between July 2014 and June 2020, the date on which he was dismissed by the previous management of the complex. The return of this doctor to the coordination of the service has materialized just two months after the competition for the temporary provision of the position was void, a process called by the outgoing management and attended by a single candidate, Burillo himself. His project was discarded, among other considerations by the evaluation commission, due to the “lack of any proposal” to avoid delays in patient care.
After the May elections, the change of government and the transfer of the Ministry of Health from the PSOE to the Canary Coalition (CC), Fernando Clavijo, who had promised in the campaign to professionalize health management, placed Adasat Goya in charge of the hospitalcouncilor of his party for 16 years in the El Sauzal City Council and with a professional career linked to the stevedoring sector, without training or experience in the field of health.
One of the first decisions of the new manager has been to recover Burillo as head of the tense and problematic emergency service. He has been chosen by the free designation procedure, by fingerthe same formula with which he was appointed for the first time in 2014, then with Ignacio López Puech in the direction of the hospital and with Brígida Mendoza (CC) at the head of Health.
Official hospital sources confirm that Burillo has served as head of the Emergency Department since October 6 after the resignation of the previous one. Management highlights that the doctor presented a “service coordination project” and that “he has the experience that supports him. In addition, he emphasizes that he is a member of the Spanish Society of Urgencies and Emergencies (Semes)
Discarded in a contest
Two months before this last appointment, the Official Gazette of the Canary Islands (BOC) published a resolution issued on July 18 by the previous manager, Mercedes Cuesto, which declared void the competition for the temporary provision of the position of head of emergencies at the HUC. to which only Burillo himself had appeared.
This procedure was convened in May 2022 by virtue of an order issued in 2012 that establishes that the section and service heads of the healthcare areas must be covered through a competition that assesses merits and a technical project.
The assessment commission was formed by the manager following the guidelines established in that order. Thus, the medical director of the center, María Sagrario Bustabad, presided over the court. The secretary, with voice but no vote, was the management director (Carmen Elvira Toste). The three members were a deputy medical director (Melchor Ángel Rodríguez, of Hospitalization, Emergencies and Critical Care); a head of another service (María Luisa Mora, of Intensive Medicine), and a head of emergencies from another hospital, José Manuel Fandiño, who carries out this work at the University Hospital of A Coruña and who, in addition, is president of the Galicia Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine (Semes).
The decision of this commission was unanimous. Burillo’s candidacy was not “suitable” for the position. Their project, according to the court’s conclusions, was “insufficient for the future management” of the HUC emergencies, had “essential cracks” and lacked “some minimum points” for the proper conduct of a service that, as they have been denouncing health workers for a long time, it has collapsed due to the increase in healthcare pressure.
Faced with this scenario, the only applicant did not propose, in the opinion of the evaluation commission, “effective and realistic measures that could make the patient count as the center of care activity in the emergency service of this management center, guaranteeing speed, technical quality and humanization in due assistance.” Nor did it include “any improvement with respect to the quality of care due in a hospital emergency department.” Neither to avoid delays in patient care nor to adapt times to the “basics of triage.”
The court points out that, from a “careful” reading of the technical project, “none of the circumstances that were likely to break the trust that was placed in said applicant at the time and that motivated his dismissal as emergency coordinator cannot be considered overcome.” ” in the previous legislature.
The two dismissals
Before participating in the contest that was finally void, Burillo had been dismissed twice as head of emergencies at the HUC. The first, on June 8, 2020. Management then said that the termination was due to a need to improve the organization of the service and separated him from the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This dismissal caused a major stir in the hospital. His departure precipitated the en bloc resignation of his collaborators and a concentration of workers at the doors of the hospital. The dismissed head of Emergency Services also received the support of the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine (Semes), of which he is coordinator of Toxicology. The president of this society, Juan Armengol, highlighted “the prestige” of Dr. Burillo “in the Canary Islands, in Spain and throughout the world” and attributed the decision taken by the manager to “personal revenge.” Those same words were used by CC deputy José Alberto Díaz-Estébanez in a parliamentary appearance.
Burillo appealed against that first dismissal and the Contentious-Administrative Court 1 of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria agreed with him. In a ruling dated May 2021, eleven months after his dismissal, a reinforcement judge annulled the dismissal because the resolution was not motivated, because the reason for that measure had not been specified. The ruling forced management to reinstate Burillo as head of the service, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Chair of Telemedicine, Robotics and Telesurgery led by surgeon Antonio Alarcó, former senator of the Popular Party (PP).
A few days after that first dismissal, the then Minister of Health, the socialist Blas Trujillo, had detailed in the regional Parliament the reasons that had led the management to relieve the person who had been head of the Emergency Department for the last six years. Among other issues, he explained that the length of stay of patients in the HUC emergency room was much longer than that of the rest of the hospitals in the Canarian Health Service network, that the “inadequate planning” of shifts and vacations had caused a “excess hours” of the medical team over the established work day or the low score in the evaluation of the residents who rotated through the service.
These same reasons were those used by management in the resolution with which it dismissed Burillo again in October 2021, three days after his reinstatement. He alluded to his “lack of suitability” for the performance of the position and a “loss of confidence” due to the “lack of alignment with management objectives,” which translated into “the impossibility of introducing changes that were considered necessary.” ”.
Dr. Burillo once again took the case to court, but, on this occasion, the Contentious-Administrative Court 6 of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria endorsed the dismissal. In a ruling issued in November of last year, the judge highlights that the resolution denotes “circumstances that are likely to break the trust initially placed” in the dismissed head of the Emergency Department, “which is not an affront to the professionalism of the appellant who is safeguarded by his professional career.”
What was substantive, therefore, was the “loss of confidence” in a position that had been occupied by the free appointment procedure, beyond the discrepancies expressed by the dismissed doctor about the reasons that led to his dismissal.
This newspaper has contacted Guillermo Burillo to find out his version of the events, but he has not responded to the questions asked.
A stressed service
In mid-October, the HUC emergencies were once again in the news for a collapse that service professionals describe as structural. “It’s the worst shift I can remember in the years I’ve been here. There were patients even sitting on the floor, the less serious ones, because there was nowhere to put them. No beds, no stretchers, no wheelchairs, no benches,” said a nurse consulted by this newspaper at the time. “It’s not now, we’ve been bad for a long time. We ran out of wheelchairs and stretchers every shift,” added another. The Satse Nursing Union also asked to end a healthcare pressure that “far from improving, increases considerably with each passing day.”
“It is a chaotic, third world situation. Due to a lack of stretchers, the ambulances have to remain in the emergency tunnel, failing to attend to other needs because there is no vital physical space or equipment to attend to,” summarizes Caty Darias, spokesperson for Intersindical Canaria, who does not value Burillo’s return. “There will be opinions for everything. There is a sector that is satisfied with this return, but we neither remove nor add anyone. What we do hope is that the situation in the emergency room will improve,” she says.
Darias specifies that “the entire healthcare part” of this hospital, which was integrated into the Canarian Health Service in 2009, has been suffering for years from a “work overload derived from the lack of personnel and the deficit in replacements for sick leave and regulatory permits.” The IC spokesperson recalls that the center is “more than 50 years old” and has not had “a comprehensive rehabilitation or maintenance of the infrastructure.” “It’s obsolete. In 2021 they guaranteed an allocation to build a new center and the situation drags on forever,” she laments.
“In addition, we can affirm that the CHUC is a center that is budget-strapped compared to the group of tertiary hospitals,” adds Darias, who recalls that the center is the reference center for the northern area of Tenerife, where a population is concentrated. very old” and where, in addition, “the large nursing homes on the island are located”, which increases the demand for care.