This weekend, around 100 people, most of whom were trade unionist pensioners, chanted “Sanidad Pública” as they marched down Calle Alcalá in defense our public health system and against its privatisation.
The effects of the privatisation of healthcare in Spain were bad before, but they’ve only been amplified by the pandemic. How?
PRIVATISATION OF HOSPITALS AND SURGERIES
Private health centres and hospitals give priority to the most profitable patients (the wealthy and healthy) and deprioritise emergency care and intensive care units, which is devastating in a pandemic. Preparing for a pandemic involves spending money in the hope that it’s not necessary – something only the public sector can achieve because it does not prioritise profit.
PRIVATISATION OF CARE HOMES
The effects of privatisation have been even more serious in nursing homes, where they’ve kept their costs low by hiring very few staff who are badly paid and not adequately trained, who receive little to no sick pay (forcing them to come to work even when ill) and who are also forced to work at multiple facilities to make enough income. All of this contributes to the spread of the virus.
The workload of private healthcare nurses is also higher than public healthcare nurses. Private healthcare nurses look after an average of five more patients a day, while their salaries are 20–25% lower.
CUTS & EU AUSTERITY
Amnesty International has described how a decade of austerity policies (enacted partly to comply with EU expenditure rules) saw public healthcare spending drop by 11.2% from 2009 to 2018, even as Spain’s GDP grew by 8.6% in part due to a boom in tourism. These cuts left primary care services overstretched, understaffed and underfunded when Covid-19 hit us, with public health workers facing impossible workloads, personal risk, exhaustion and stress.
The private hospitals lobby appears to be using the Covid-19 crisis to further establish and expand the role of the private sector, which will very simply kill off our most vulnerable and marginalised communities, especially people with disabilities, migrants and the elderly.
What is he marching for?
- No more cuts
- No more privatisation
- Protect public services from the EU’s trade and investment agenda
- Sanidad Pública
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