On 21 June 2023, the Spanish Supreme Court issued a judgment regarding the availability of protective equipment for healthcare professionals during the pandemic in Andalusia.
In this case, the Colegio Oficial de Enfermería de Jaén (Official College of Nursing of Jaén) and several individuals filed a claim against the Servicio Andaluz de Salud (Andalusian Health Service) concerning the protection of fundamental rights. The claim sought a declaration of violation of the right guaranteed by Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution, which relates to the right to life and physical and moral integrity, specifically in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The case started with a ruling by the Social Court No. 2 of Jaén on 27 September 2021, which dismissed the claim, finding that the Andalusian Health Service did not violate the rights of the nursing college and the individuals in providing protective equipment (specifically, personal protective equipment against COVID-19) during the early stages of the pandemic. The claimants appealed the ruling to the Social Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia in Granada.
The appeal to the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia was subsequently denied on 9 June 2022. The court upheld the initial judgment and rejected the arguments put forth by the nursing college and the individuals. The court reasoned that the Andalusian Health Service had taken measures to provide necessary protective equipment to its personnel as the pandemic progressed, and thus, there was no ongoing violation of their rights at the time of the appeal.
Following the denial of the appeal by the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia, the nursing college and the individuals took their case to the Supreme Court by filing a cassation appeal with the intention of unifying doctrinal interpretations of the law. However, the Supreme Court found that there was no proper contradiction between the judgments cited by the appellants. It also dismissed their claims of violation of the right to life and physical and moral integrity and the inversion of the burden of proof.
Consequently, the cassation appeal was declared inadmissible, and the judgment issued by the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia in Granada on 9 June 2022 became final. The case files were returned to the originating court for further proceedings.
In summary, the legal issues in the case revolved around the alleged violation of fundamental rights, particularly the right to life and physical and moral integrity, as well as the duty of the Andalusian Health Service to provide protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the courts consistently ruled in favor of the Health Service, finding no ongoing violation of rights, and concluding that the necessary protective measures had been taken during the relevant periods.
Reference: ATS 9177/2023 - ECLI:ES:TS:2023:9177A.