Catalan hospital staff members demonstrate to support public healthcare
Staff members from Catalonia’s main hospitals, including Sant Pau, Vall d’Hebron, Clínic, Parc Taulí and Germans Trias i Pujol, carried out several protests on Wednesday. Some of these protests had already started a few days ago and might last a few days longer, such as spending the night in the hospital lobby. They are demonstrating to criticise the budget cuts affecting health centres and to defend the public healthcare system. Some of these hospitals are recognised at an international level for their top quality clinical and scientific research work.
Barcelona (ACN).- Staff members from Catalonia’s main hospitals carried out several protests on Wednesday to criticise the budget cuts affecting health centres and to defend the public healthcare system. Some of these protests had already started a few days ago and might last a few days longer, such as spending the night in the hospital lobby. The protesting staff work at several hospitals, some of which are recognised at an international level for their top-quality clinical and scientific research work. The hospitals affected by the protests include Sant Pau, Vall d’Hebron, Clínic, Parc Taulí and Germans Trias i Pujol, among others. The Catalan Government, which manages the entire public healthcare system in Catalonia, has been obliged to significantly reduce its deficit over the last two years. Since early 2011, severe budget cuts have been implemented throughout the totality of its departments, including healthcare, which receives by far the largest share of the Catalan budget. Therefore, Catalan healthcare staff and patients have been witnessing and experiencing first-hand the effects of such budget cuts for the last two years. Some of the measures included reducing the number of hospital beds, closing some hospital floors, decreasing the number of operation rooms available, and shutting down some primary healthcare centres on weekends or reducing their visiting hours.
Wednesday was a protest day at most of the main hospitals in the Catalan public healthcare system. 14 days ago, staff members from one of Barcelona’s main hospitals, the Sant Pau i Santa Creu Hospital, started to spend the night in their work centre as a protest. Today, staff from two of the other top hospitals in the Catalan capital joined the initiative and announced that they had started a 24 hour protest. Marcela Güell, a member of Vall d’Hebron’s Staff Board, warned about the possibility that the action “might continue” to avoid “a new attack against a public service” already “quite damaged”. Güell explained that the incumbent Catalan Government had already stated that budget cuts “will increase” as further adjustments are planned to be implemented in 2013 aiming at reducing public spending further to meet the imposed 0.7% deficit target.
Other hospitals have protested by other means. For instance, staff from the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital in Badalona (Greater Barcelona) – mostly known by its old name ‘Can Ruti’ –, together with patients and relatives, have formed a human chain to surround the healthcare centre. A similar action has been developed at the Joan XXIII Hospital in Tarragona.
Staff members from the Vall d’Hebron Hospital, in Barcelona, started a 24-hour lock-down action at 9am. Furthermore, they have read a manifesto entitled ‘For quality and dignified healthcare’. With these actions, they are sharing the spirit of some staff members from Sant Pau Hospital.
On the 28th of November, some of the Sant Pau workers started an indefinite lock-down protest, consisting of a permanent demonstration that includes spending the night in the centre. This hospital is particularly affected by budget cuts since its management announced around a year ago a negotiated mass lay-off in order to reduce spending. The hospital’s Workers’ Committee announced on Wednesday that their protest will carry on.
Following this protest, workers from the Parc Taulí Healthcare Consortium, in Sabadell (Greater Barcelona), decided to start a demonstration last night consisting of them camping in the hospital lobby for an indefinite period of time.