With drums and chanting slogans, the protesters gathered on the main boulevard that ran past the city’s El Prado museum as part of a so-called Maria Blancaor “white tide” demonstration that drew 30,000 people, a spokesman for the regional government said.
Primary care in the Madrid region has been under enormous pressure for years due to a lack of resources and staff, forcing more people to turn to hospital emergency departments, which are now overwhelmed with patients in a situation that is reverberating across Spain.
This week, the SEMES aid workers association said Madrid’s emergency departments had seen a “10 to 20 percent” increase in patients, while the ADSP, which also represents health workers in Madrid, said 300 people were waiting in corridors for a bed .
During the march, dozens of people held up a huge banner that read: “No to austerity and privatization and yes to health care and public services”. Others held up placards demanding the resignation of Isabel, the region’s right-wing leader Diaz Ayuso and say “Health care cuts are a criminal act”.
“The situation in Madrid is unsustainable because of the willful neglect and privatization policies that have been implemented Ayuso and her government, the results of which can be clearly seen in today’s emergency departments,” the ADSP this week called on people to join the march.
“We cannot continue with an inadequate number of hospital beds, which is worsening every year due to the reduction in the number of beds in public centers and the funneling of public money to private centers.”
The demonstration comes amid a wave of strikes over public health shortages across Spain, with strike action planned or threatened in at least eight of the 17 regions.
In Madrid, GPs and pediatricians resumed an indefinite strike on Thursday that started on November 21, but was suspended a month later due to the Christmas holidays.
Amyts doctors’ union said it resumed the strike after talks with the regional health ministry fell through.