Tens of thousands protest in support of Madrid healthcare

Photo by EFE

Tens of thousands of citizens from all the neighbourhoods and municipalities of the Community of Madrid took to the streets of the capital on Sunday to defend public health.

More than 70 Madrid neighbourhood associations were involved in the demonstration, considered the largest since healthcare workers in Madrid started strike action, in order to show their support.

The tens of thousands of people who participated in the protest carried numerous slogans in favour of public health, and critical of the politicians the supporters say are responsible for the demise, including Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the Partido Popular President of Madrid since 2019.

The demonstration takes place in a highly tense context between the medical staff and the Government of Ayuso, with special gravity in Primary Care. Despite the clamour in the streets, professionals have denounced that there have been no improvements in this time, with regional budgets, moreover, that have had to be extended.

Representatives of the political opposition also participated in the massive demonstration this Sunday. “Those of us who take to the streets of Madrid today represent a moral majority. Whatever is voted for, there is already a majority of men and women from Madrid who agree on a very basic idea: we want to live in a place where your health does not depend on your money”, said Iñigo Errejón, from Más País.

Family doctors and paediatricians have been on indefinite strike since last November, while the rest of the professionals in hospitals and extra-hospital emergencies have repeatedly denounced a lack of personnel in their services. With stoppages, day in and day out, and weekly protests, the medics have asked the ministry to put an end to this critical situation, but for the moment the government representatives have not yet appeared in any negotiations with the strike committee.

Last week, the Prosecutor’s Office has ruled in favour of the AMYTS union and has recognised that the council violated the rights of Madrid medics by establishing minimum services of 100% during the strike. At the same time, the Municipal Police have issued fines to residents for distributing leaflets encouraging participation in the protest.

Madrid is the community that invests the least in Primary Care, with 10.7%, well below the 25% recommended by the WHO, according to the Ministry of Health. In addition, the organisers denounce that a million people from Madrid do not have a doctor in Primary and 200,000 children from Madrid do not have an assigned paediatrician. All these people are deprived of the proven benefit of having a doctor on an ongoing basis, including being able to reduce their mortality by 25%. Regarding consultations, one in five positions for family doctors are empty. The same occurs with 30% of the positions of paediatricians.