Thousands of health workers in Spain’s capital, Madrid, have once again hit the streets to demand better salaries and working conditions and to denounce the conservative regional government for “destruction” of the public health system.
A regional government spokesman said as many as 30,000 protesters gathered for the demonstration.
Clad in white coats and banging drums, they chanted anti-government slogans in front of the regional government headquarters. “Cutting public health is criminal.” Others carried signs with slogans reading, “SOS Public Healthcare” and “Stop Privatization.”
“In primary care we have lost the main resource we had, which is time and connection with the patient,” said Miriam Gonzalez, a 45-year-old physician.
Madrid regional government, led by the Popular Party’s Isabel Ayuso, has come under fire in recent years for poor staffing in hospitals and primary healthcare centers.
Protesters say the regional government is dismantling public health services and favoring private health providers. They say the government in Madrid has reduced the funding of the public health care system, which has led to a severe lack of resources and staff in public hospitals.
Ayuso says the protests and strikes are being orchestrated by left-wing parties in the run-up to municipal and regional elections this year.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of people marched through central Madrid in support of health workers calling for better working conditions. A march in November also attracted demonstrators in the tens of thousands.