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07/01/2013Madrid doctors launch fresh protest at crisis reforms
Thousands of Spanish doctors and healthcare workers marched in Madrid Monday in the latest of a wave of protests against plans to save money by privatising hospital services.
Blowing horns and banging drums, the protestors marched along the capital's central avenues, some wearing white doctor's coats as well as scarves and coats against the cold.
"Healthcare is up for sale so politicians can make money," read one banner.
Health workers staged weeks of strikes last month against the Madrid regional government's plan to privatise certain health services in the region.
The plan is part of cost-cutting measures as the region, like other authorities across Spain, fights to stabilise its public finances amid a biting recession. It has enraged many who are fiercely protective of the public health system.
"I don't think it's fair that the taxes we all pay are going to go to private companies to provide our healthcare," said one protestor, Lucia Munoz, 26, a trainee doctor.
"Those companies have to make a profit, so they are going to cut whatever they can," including jobs and budgets, she said. "That is going to affect the quality of healthcare."
Madrid's conservative regional government insists its plan is necessary for the region to meet its tough deficit targets. and denies it is dismantling hospitals.
© 2013 AFP
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