Thousands of health staff and supporters join fresh protests in central Madrid

Demonstrators are calling for an end to the regional government's plans for privatization

Protesters during Sunday's demonstration against privatization in the Madrid health service.
Protesters during Sunday's demonstration against privatization in the Madrid health service. J.J.Guillen / EFE

Thousands of workers and users of public health services marched in Madrid on Sunday in the second “white tide” so far this year against privatization plans for the sector.

Protesters chanted the movement’s habitual slogan, “La sanidad no se vende, se defiende” (The health system should not be sold, it must be defended), as they marched between Plaza de Colón and the Health Ministry, located on Paseo del Prado.

Some of the placards on display read things like “Health is non-negotiable,” or “Not with my taxes.” One sign called for the resignations of regional premier Ignacio González, his health commissioner Javier Fernández Lasquetty, and of the man behind Madrid’s health privatization plans, Antonio Burgueño, director general of Madrid’s hospitals.

The Popular Party (PP) government of Ignacio González plans to outsource the management of six hospitals and 27 health centers across the region. The regional conservatives have also introduced a system of a one-euro co-payment per prescription, despite opposition from central party leaders.

On January 7, thousands of people marched in the first “white tide” against the privatization of the public health system.

The legitimacy of such initiatives was further questioned by the public when it emerged last week that a company where a former Madrid health commissioner works has taken over a lucrative contract to conduct medical analysis for patients at those same six public hospitals in line for privatization.

More information