Lakhs of people demonstrated in the capital of Spain to demand more staff in primary healthcare centres and to protest against creeping privatisation of the public health system


Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent


Lakhs of Spanish public health workers and their supporters staged a demonstration in Madrid, the capital of Spain, on 13 November 2022 to demand more primary healthcare staff, and to protest against the progressive dismantling of the public health system in favour of private service providers by the regional government. Organisers said more than 650,000 people had joined the demonstration.

The protest in the Spanish capital took place under the slogan “Madrid rises up for public health” and was called the “white tidal wave” because of the white medical coats worn by many protesters.

Organisers said that although Madrid is the Spanish region with the highest income per capita, it spends the least amount per capita on primary healthcare. The national average spend on healthcare is €1,700 per inhabitant, but in Madrid, it is only €1,300. They said that for every two euros spent on healthcare in Madrid, one ends up in the private sector.

“The people of Madrid deserve quality primary healthcare and not delays of more than a week to see family doctors or paediatricians,” said a local doctors’ union member.

Some medical staff are already on strike over the new model for non-hospital emergency health centres, while almost 5,000 general practitioner doctors (GPs) and paediatricians in the region are set to join them later this month because of “the excess workload, the endless appointments and a lack of time for seeing patients”.

Unions said primary care services in the Madrid area have been under huge pressure for years due to lack of resources and staff as a result of austerity measures imposed during the country’s financial crisis a decade ago.

“The cuts that have already been made since 2010 are devastating for public health. The situation is now untenable,” a doctor said.

Union representatives added that healthcare has been worsened by poor management and that the regional government wants to restructure the system further to allow for more public-private healthcare partnerships.

A protester holds a sign supporting public healthcare



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