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Tens of thousands of health workers protest in Spain

MADRID: Tens of thousands of Spanish doctors, nurses and hospital staff marched through the capital Madrid yesterday to protest privatizations.
Dressed in white, the protesters chanted “Public health!” and “Health is a right. We are going to fight.”
For several weeks, staff have occupied about 20 hospitals in Madrid and the surrounding area to protest the regional government’s decision to privatize six of the facilities under budget cuts planned for 2013.
The health sector is paying a heavy price for the austerity policies implemented by the rightwing government of Mariano Rajoy, which is drastically trying to cut the public deficit.
Jaime Rodriguez, a 33-year-old doctor from the Leganes hospital in the Madrid suburbs, said he was there for two main reasons.
“Because the budget cuts are harming medical services for citizens, and because working conditions for staff are worsening,” Rodriguez said.
For example, Rodriguez said a 90-year-old patient had to spend five days in the emergency room because there were no free beds elsewhere in the hospital.
According to government estimates, more than 800,000 people participated in Nov. 14 demonstrations against austerity across Spain, capping a day of Europe-wide strikes and rallies.
It was the second general strike in eight months in Spain which is deep in a recession that has left one in four workers unemployed.
About 5,000 police officers marched through the center of Madrid on Saturday to protest salary cuts and the thinning of their ranks.