THOUSANDS of people took to the streets of Malaga, Granada, Sevilla and Huelva on Sunday to protest against cutbacks within the Andalucia health service over recent years.
An estimated 55,000 people in Granada, 30,000 in Malaga and 10,000 in Sevilla joined marches to express their concern over the Junta de Andalucia regional government’s public health spending, which has dropped 11 per cent since 2010. In 2016, Andalucia was the Spanish region which spent the least on health per capita, at €1,067, a far cry from the €1,584 per capita in Pais Vasco according to data from the CES (Economic and Social Board).
Although the Junta has announced that it has budgeted €9,304 million for the health service in 2017, the figure is still well below the €9,739 million spent in 2010.
Maite Mesa, a nurse from Tarifa who joined the protest in Malaga, complained that La Linea de la Concepcion hospital had no paediatrician as nobody wanted to accept the poor conditions offered in the contract.
Sevilla doctors Mauricio Moreno and Rafael Jimenez agreed that most of the problems are due to a lack of staff and the poor conditions they put up with. “They’ve cut our salaries by 25 per cent on average and temporary contracts are made by the day or by the hour, leave is not covered and patients suffer,” they complained.
Cutbacks have even led to smaller health centres being closed down. In Badolatosa, Sevilla, for example, there is no longer a doctor for the 3,200 inhabitants. Local resident Maria del Carmen Ruiz Moreno, who travelled to Sevilla city to join the protest, said: “It takes ages for the ambulance to arrive. Two people have died already while waiting: one man with an asthma attack and another with a heart attack. We’ve complained over and over again but the Health Department doesn’t listen.”