A tide of white coats is sweeping through Barcelona to defend public health care

Some 9,500 doctors, according to the mossos, both of hospitals from primary care centers (CAP), supported the strike this Wednesday and demonstrated in front of the Conselleria de Salut for the defense of public health. This mobilization is in addition to the one that took place in Plaça de Sant Jaume. There, in the heart of Barcelona, ​​professors of public health and other health profiles (nurses, auxiliaries) also demonstrated, gathering a large number of people. some 6,500 people. The doctors preferred to demonstrate on their own. And so, between the two mobilizations, nearly 15,000 workers in public services stopped today to denounce the deterioration of the two fundamental pillars of the European Union. The welfare state : public health and education.

The mobilization of doctors, called by the Union Metges de Catalunya (MC) and which took on a festive and vindictive character, was the second major public health strike over the past four years in Catalonia. In 2018, primary care doctors had already mobilized, but this time, hospital doctors also joined them. And they claim similar reasons to those for whom we fought four years earlier: impossible diaries there working conditions that could be improved. Few steps forward have been made since then. In the middle of the strike and from Parliament, the “conseller” of Salut, Manel Balcells, proposed a “national pact” to protect the health system.

“We are here to support quality public health”, he told this newspaper Rocio Sanchez, nurse at CAP Sarrià. Although it was a protest by doctors, Mr. Sánchez criticized that health care workers had organized separate protests. “We are all healthcare workers and We all have the same problems, he explained to this newspaper.

“Mental health is fundamental” or “Aragonès, pay more” are some of the slogans that were heard in the demonstration of white coats on Wednesday, which will continue in the coming days. tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Plaça de Sant Jaume. At noon on Friday, the union, employers and Salut will resume talks to reach an agreement and try to call off the strike which is also scheduled for February 1, 2 and 3.

The “conselleria” accuses the union of having a “red line” on wages: doctors, according to Salut, affirm the direct award of a wage supplement in the payslips, something who must first go through a negotiation table. The union, however, assures us that its red line is The well-being : calls for a limitation of doctors’ hours, while the ministry is committed to the self-organization.

Allocation in the CAPs

While the doctors, who came from other Catalan towns, such as Girona, demonstrated in front of Salut’s headquarters, walked down the Rambla de Brasil and headed towards Salut’s headquarters. Sants Station (to symbolize the exodus of professionals), some primary care centers (CAP), such as the North Raval or Drassanes suffered from a lack of professionals. Empty waiting rooms and even overcrowded emergency rooms (in the case of Raval Nord), where patients piled up during a day-long strike followed, according to Metges de Catalunya, by 75% of its doctors (about 30% according to Salut).

“We are on strike for improve our work. Improve residency training: they use us as a workforce,” he said. Roser Terms, MIR in surgery at the Hospital Clinic from Barcelona. “The MIRs we worked very hard, many hours and we fill the vacancies of assistant doctors, specialist positions because there is no staff, added the 29-year-old. The lack of staff and, in particular, of nurses, is the reason that the covid hospital Moisès Broggi (Sant Joan Despí) is empty and without patients, with 56 unused intensive care beds.

The same have denounced Marti Quintana, an MIR internist in the Trueta Hospital Doctor in Girona that this Wednesday dawned in Barcelona for “demand for dignity”. “We, MIR, are exploited. Our working hours are poorly regulated. For example, the other day I had 38 people in a single morning in my office”, Quintana complained.

Shortage of staff

The understaffed is the main problem of the public health system, not only in Catalonia, but also throughout Europe. generation of doctors for which there is no replacement because it was not well planned. This is what the union denounced once again on Wednesday.

“Here, today, we are the same [9.500 médicos] who will retire in Catalonia over the next decade,” said the general secretary of Metges de Catalunya, Xavier Lléonart, already from Sants station. For the union, the participation rate was ” spectacular “. When reading the manifesto, Lleonart accused the Department of Health of “transform the health system into a factory where the quality of care is secondary”. and pointed out that today the doctors “said enough is enough”.

In Ciutadella, the medical mobilization continued. From the Parliament, in the middle of the demonstration, the “conseller” of Salut, Manel Balcells, launched a proposal to respond to the “shielding” of the health system: a national pact to address the model, the financing and the main challenges ahead. Balcells told all groups that they will receive a formal invitation to participate in this debate as soon as the strike is over. The doctors will go to Parliament tomorrow, around noon and coming from Sant Jaume, to claim their rights once again.

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