Thousands crowd the streets of Madrid to protest in support of health workers

Image of protesters in Madrid. Credit: Twitter@MarotoReyes

Protesters marching in support of health workers jammed the streets of Madrid.


Thousands of residents of Madrid have taken to the streets of the capital this Sunday, February 12, to protest in defense of public health workers. According to the Government Delegation, an estimated 250,000 people have turned out. In direct contrast, the organizers claimed numbers in excess of one million.

Called and supported by 74 social organisations, the protests were divided into four columns to finally converge on Plaza de Cibeles . They marched under the slogan ‘Madrid rises up and demands Public Health and solutions to the Primary Care Plan’.

Just as they did in the mobilization of November 13, 2022, the inhabitants of neighborhoods and towns in Madrid were marching against the health management of the president of the Community, Isabel Diaz Ayuso.

The participants in the march demanded solutions to the Primary Care Plan proposed by the regional government. They wanted to show their support for the health professionals who are on indefinite strike and, at the same time, defend “the right to public, universal and quality healthcare”.

Ayuso and the regional minister, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, considered that this mobilisation: “is not about public health”, but is politicised. “It is a political strike, they said so, and they are going to prolong it until the elections,” the president said on Wednesday 8.

She also claimed that only between 35 and 50 doctors out of 82,000 are supporting the strike called in primary care over the last few days, which equates to around 1 per cent of doctors.

The indefinite strike of 4,240 family doctors and 720 pediatricians in primary care in the Community of Madrid began on November 21. Almost three months later, negotiations are still at a standstill and the strike is at an all-time low, with a 1.39 per cent follow-through by last Friday morning.

This is the lowest figure since it was called by the Association of Doctors and Graduates of Madrid (Amyts). It denounced the precariousness of primary care and the new model of out-of-hospital emergencies. This involves 80 24-hour Continuous Care Points (PAC), but without all of them having a full team of a doctor, nurse and orderly.

Among other issues, health professionals are demanding a minimum of ten minutes per patient, more funding for public health, a limitation of schedules, and an improvement in their working conditions, to prevent them from fleeing to other regions or countries.

However, the regional government maintains that more than €200 million have been allocated to the Primary Care Plan. In addition, it also pointed out that Madrid is a leader in transplants, a pioneer in mental health, and applies the most advanced treatments.

It also stated that the new scheduling model aims to reduce the number of patients per family doctor and paediatrician while increasing the time dedicated to them, although the strike committee has doubts about this pilot project.

In the manifesto read during the protest, the organizers denounced the fact that there had been an increase in the number of vacancies not covered in health centres. They argued that primary care emergencies had been dynamited, creating chaos in both rural and urban services.

The organizers also accused the government of leaving emergency centers without doctors. They are not building the promised health centers, nor are they reforming “the ones that are falling apart”, they added.

In response to these accusations, the Community of Madrid insisted that the capital has the best hospital network in the country. It has 35 public hospitals that are an international reference, and the SUMMA112 fleet is the most modern and complete in Europe it highlighted.

New infrastructures in Madrid public health stand out, given that four health centers have been opened this year: Sevilla La Nueva, Parque Oeste de Alcorcon, Las Tablas, and Navalcarnero 2.

The promoters of the demonstration demanded the shielding of public health with the repeal of the laws that allow health privatization- They also want an increase in staff both in health centers and in emergency rooms and hospitals offering “dignified and stable” contracts that will stop the exodus of professionals from Madrid to other places.

Salary improvements have been carried out for this group insisted the regional government. There have been increases of €3,800 on average per year for family doctors and €3,300 for paediatricians they underlined. Similarly, it pointed out that 9,574 stabilization positions have been called for the statutory staff of the Madrid Health Service.

Finally, the protesters demanded that all Madrid residents are assigned a doctor, paediatrician and nurse. The planned reduction of hours in health centers in the afternoon shift should also be scrapped they added.

The immediate opening of extra-hospital emergencies with full health personnel and the reduction of waiting times in health centers and hospitals are also among their demands.

In response, the Community stressed that Madrid was the region with the highest hourly coverage in Primary Care in public health. The average waiting time in public health is half the national average they highlighted. Waiting lists are also among the lowest in Spain, but even so, Health continues to work on reducing them.


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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at