Thousands of Spaniards protest health privatization (PHOTOS)
The demonstrators protested against the privatization of six hospitals and 27 health centers in the Spanish capital. This comes after a new law was passed last month allowing Madrid’s regional government to transfer the management of hospitals and health centers to private companies. Spain’s heath care and education are administered by regional authorities rather than the central government.
Monica Garcia, spokeswoman for the Association of Medical Specialists of Madrid, which initiated the march, told AP that her organization would continue to protest "the loss of our public health care, a national heritage that belongs to us and not to the government." She added that the regional government was trying "to obtain economic benefit" from a system it had not invested in.
Agustin Reverte, a 31-year-old doctor, said, "Private companies will want to get profit out of this, so fewer diagnostic tests will be made for patients, they will hire fewer staff and patients will be looked after worse."
The privatization proposal comes as Madrid’s government insists that austerity measures are needed to save the health care system.
Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions are struggling with a combined debt of 145 billion euros.
Health workers and supporters take part in a protest against the local government's plans to cut spending on public health care in Madrid January 7, 2013. (Reuters / Juan Medina)
Financial analyst Patrick Young argues that there is nothing that can be done about the current Spanish situation. “Spain has the tenth biggest deficit on the planet and effectively is haemorrhaging money at the moment because the budgets were made in the good old days when property markets were going through the roof. Nowadays nobody can sell a property, nobody can get a job and obviously the government simply doesn’t have the money even for essential facilities like healthcare.”
“The truth is that ultimately governments are hideously inefficient when they do large-scale health provision,” he told RT.
Young insists that the government has no other choice but to privatize the health sector. “Ultimately privately deployed capital tends to be deployed in a way that is more efficient both for the user and indeed the provider of that capital.”
“What we are looking at here is the idea that the cradle to the grave – socialist methodology that has been popular in post war Western Europe, particularly in Mediterranean nations, simply is unaffordable. And therefore now we have to go private, we have to have that better provision and government is going to do its best to safeguard that the services are actually as good as they were before and probably better.”
A woman blows a whistle during a protest against the local government's plans to cut public healthcare spending in Madrid January 7, 2013. (Reuters / Juan Medina)
A woman walks during a protest against the local government's plans to cut public healthcare spending in Madrid January 7, 2013. (Reuters / Juan Medina)
Musicians perform during a protest against the local government's plans to cut public healthcare spending in Madrid January 7, 2013. (Reuters / Juan Medina)