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Spanish doctors, nurses stage mass protest in Madrid

Published on Nov 28, 2012 6:35 AM
Protestors hold banners during a demonstration against the regional government's spending cuts, job cuts, and privatisation of the public health sector in central Madrid on Nov 27, 2012. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Tens of thousands of doctors and medical staff marched in Madrid on Tuesday to protest austerity cuts squeezing the health sector, many wearing their white lab coats and carrying posters with slogans like "Health cuts kill".

Some 75,000 public health professionals in the Madrid region were called to join the protest to mark the last day of a two-day strike against deep spending cuts by the crisis-hobbled national government and plans by the regional government to privatise hospitals and health centres.

"The people should not have to pay for private health care," said paediatrician Veronica Sanchez of Severo Ochoa hospital, amid a swarm of demonstrators who defied the cold to march through the capital wielding placards with messages such as "We're selling our health" and "Health should be defended, not sold".

Geriatrics specialist Fatima Branas of soon-to-be-privatised Infanta Leonor hospital said it was rare for health professionals to stage a mass protest. But she said the privatisation plans were the last straw.

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