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Thousands of Spanish health workers protest ‘destruction of health system’

Pouring onto the streets of Madrid in tens of thousands, health workers protested on Sunday what they claimed was the destruction of the public health system by the conservative regional government.

Some dressed in white coats, others in more fanciful costumes such as that of the Grim Reaper, banging drums and chanting “Cutting public health is criminal,” protested understaffed hospitals and primary healthcare centres.

The Madrid regional government, led by the Popular Party’s Isabel Ayuso, has come under fire in recent years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, for poor staffing in hospitals and primary healthcare centres.

The protester dressed as the Grim Reaper carried a placard reading “I am Ayuso’s plan for the emergency ward. I am waiting for you.”

Taking part in the protest, Ana Encinas, 62, said the lack of staff is reducing their time to attend patients.

My daily agenda has about 40, 45 or 50 patients per day. We have little time for each patient. At first, we have six to seven minutes per patient but as emergency patients arrive or when we have to attend to patients from a sick colleague or a colleague that is on holidays it has a toll on the agenda,” she told Reuters. “The problem is that they are not allowing us to work properly they are forcing us to give a bad service to patients.”

But Ayuso washes hands and says the protests and strikes are being plotted by left-wing parties in the run-up to municipal and regional elections this year.

In November, tens of thousands of people marched through central Madrid in support of health workers calling for better working conditions.

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