Covid sick leave will end automatically in 7 days if patient no longer has symptoms

123,000 off work due to pandemic as Catalonia urges more flexibility to deal with paperwork and take pressure off primary care

A man entering Onze de Setembre primary care center in Lleida on December 29, 2021 (by Laura Cortés)
A man entering Onze de Setembre primary care center in Lleida on December 29, 2021 (by Laura Cortés) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 12, 2022 11:18 AM

Catalan primary care centers are overwhelmed due to the sixth wave of Covid – and not only because they have to deal with patients' symptoms, but also due to the "exceptional" amount of paperwork that the sharp rise of cases is generating.

Doctors and nurses are complaining about the number of positive cases from self-tests that they have to put into the public health system, and especially about the thousands of sick leave justifications they have to manually confirm and end.

As such, sick leaves will automatically end in seven days if the patient no longer has symptoms, as announced by the Catalan health department in a press conference on Wednesday morning.

This new system, which came into force on Wednesday and only applies to Covid-related conditions, "aims to make the process easier for the public and take pressure off workers."

As of January 10, 123,406 people had active sick leaves, as revealed by health department secretary-general, Meritxell Masó, and approximately 3,500 of them were health professionals. 

According to her, whenever a sick leave is confirmed, it will automatically end seven days later, but if symptoms continue after this period, the patient has to notify their local primary care center in order to assess the situation.

If the person with a sick leave ends up hospitalized, they will need to take no action because their sick leave will be automatically extended without them notifying their local GP. 

At the same time, Catalonia is urging more flexibility from Spain to deal with the related paperwork on their end since they are in charge of the national insurance. 

On Tuesday, health minister Josep Maria Argimon requested for sick leaves to be exceptionally validated only with "a self-responsibility statement" by the patient, which would not need any professional validating them. 

He added that 440,000 people got Covid-19 in the previous eight days, which roughly accounts for 5.7% of the total population of Catalonia.