Thousands fill Madrid streets protesting 'dismantling' of public health -

2 April,

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Thousands fill Madrid streets protesting 'dismantling' of public health

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Tens of thousands protested on Sunday against what they claim to be the 'dismantling' of public healthcare in a 'privatization push' in Madrid.
"We are here defending the public healthcare system," said a physiotherapist, who is among the protesters and one of hundreds wearing a doctor's coat.
The anger on the streets was palpable.
"In the Community of Madrid region there are 222 physiotherapists for eight million people. That's between 30 and 40,000 people per physio which is insane," he said.
"The UN says there should be one per 1,500 people and we have 30,000. The numbers don't work. We're all sick of this situation. Doctors, physios, nurses, midwives, we're all sick of this situation."
Luiz Diaz, a doctor at the head of the march up Gran Via, Madrid's main central street, said: "There's a lack of doctors in most of primary healthcare centers, some of them lack paediatric doctors for the kids, lots of people don't have a doctor close to them anymore and almost 200,000 kids don't have a family doctor either.
"Pediatricians leave to go to other countries because they're paid better and can get better working conditions, so of course they leave.
"We're not asking for more money, we're simply asking for decent conditions to be able to do our jobs properly."
Another protester is with her mother who is a doctor and they are both wearing medicals coats.
"We are proud of our healthcare system, we don't want to lose it. We are here because we don't want to lose our public healthcare system. We are protesting about our rights and we hope we can achieve something," she said.
"We are trying to avoid the privatization of our public healthcare system. We are very proud of our system of healthcare and we don't want to lose it and yeah, we are fighting."
Their anger is directed towards Isabel Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid regional government.
Protesters in Madrid who are unhappy at the state of public healthcare in Spain. /CGTN
Her administration says that the political left in Spain has "hijacked" the issue in an election year and orchestrated a campaign against her.
"What you're doing is hijacking public health for your own political interests. You're trying to break the system with these politically-motivated strikes," Ayuso said recently in parliament.
Health workers reject that stance and say the Madrid regional president, who ran as a candidate under the Partido Popular party, has a lack of respect for them.
Doctors, nurses, and other health staff say the continual budget cuts to the health service have left it overwhelmed and under-resourced, and have taken strike action.
They feel the regional authorities are pushing for increased privatization of the health service.
Protesters say that half of the regional budget now ends up in the private sector, with plans to allow more private participation in the health care system.
What has made matters worse is that many doctors and nurses who have left their posts have not been replaced. Some of those that have left, have often gone to countries that offer better conditions for medical staff than Spain.

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