THOUSANDS of people took to the streets on Sunday November 27 in the cities of Granada, Huelva, and Malaga to voice their discontent over issues pertaining to the Andalucian Health Service (SAS).
The protest in Granada was particularly large, with police estimating that between 40,000 and 45,000 people participated. In Huelva there were around 13,000 protesters and in Malaga approximately 3,000.
This was the third march in Granada in a little more than a month, following similar ones on October 16 and November 5. The protesters in Granada are primarily railing against a planned reorganisation which will result in one hospital being divided up amongst three speciality centres. The protesters have expressed their strong preference for “two complete hospitals.” Their chief concern is that the new system will oblige people to ‘self-diagnose’ whenever they are experiencing some sort of medical emergency in order to decide which centre they must visit.
The ongoing protests in Granada have inspired a similar citizen movement in Huelva, where the issues revolve around the planned merger of two hospitals. The protesters have argued that the loss of resources and staff would significantly reduce the quality of services in the hospital. Much as in Granada, the platform is demanding two complete hospitals to ensure that the general populace is properly looked after.
Meanwhile in Malaga, the protest aimed to draw attention to the issue of hospital complaints in the province, which have gone up by 200 per cent over the last two years. The majority of the complaints are related to delays in specialist consultations, medical diagnoses, and surgical interventions. Protesters have argued that the hospitals are severely understaffed, whereas the Medical Union of Malaga claimed that last week, the director of the obstetrics and gynaecology unit of the Materno Hospital Infantil left her post after three years, apparently due to the staff shortage.
Following the protests, the Andalucian Council for Health said in a statement that it would continue listening to the general populace, as well as professionals in the sector. The council indicated that the improvement of the public health system always remains a top priority, and stated that it will analyse all possible scenarios to ensure that the public health system satisfies the expectations and needs of as many people as possible.