Puncture of the "red tide" against the Health of Ayuso

The white tide has once again taken to the streets in the center of Madrid today to defend Madrid's public health system, denounce "privatization" and "cuts" and ask for "more resources and financing for public services." The 98th protest of this movement started at 12 noon in Plaza Juan Goytisolo, next to the Reina Sofía Museum. Although it was convened with the same intensity as the previous ones by the Madrid Public Health Defense Committee (MEDSAP)–Marea Blanca, made up of social entities, health and science professionals, union and neighborhood organizations, professional platforms for health and user associations – and which has the support of the Madrid opposition parties PSOE, Más Madrid, Podemos and IU– the result was a failure.

Only 150 people seconded her, according to data from the Madrid Government Delegation, which represents an abysmal difference compared to that of January 13, which brought together some 30,000 people. Something understandable if one takes into account that the reason for the protests has been deflating, especially after, last Thursday, the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso settled the conflict with family doctors and primary care pediatricians in the region after four months of strike.

The agreement reached includes essential aspects such as that all Primary Care physicians – family doctors and paediatricians – will receive a fixed supplement of 450 euros per month. To this, doctors who only work in the afternoons in health centers will add an additional bonus of another 500 euros per month. This supplement will be 300 euros for those who work 3 or 4 afternoons per week.

On the other hand, the issue of the saturation of the agendas of these professionals has also been resolved.

The agreement has also given rise to a new schedule limitation system that guarantees that the family doctor will be able to dedicate 10 minutes to each patient. Pediatricians, for their part, may spend 15 minutes per child. The maximum time of these agendas will be extended to 300 minutes, so that family doctors will treat a maximum of 30 patients per day, to which another four emergencies may be added. In the case of pediatricians, the full agenda will include a total of 20 patients and 4 emergencies.

However, the Association for the Defense of Public Health (ADSP) of Madrid has considered that the agreement between the Ministry of Health and the Amyts medical union has had a "remunerative" nature and that it does not include an increase in staff, which means some "poor results for such a long conflict."

Back with privatization

The conveners of yesterday's demonstration remain in their complaint that "the public-private model of health management for which the Community of Madrid has opted" is another new thread of the great neoliberal nut that justifies everything in order to maintain an economy for the elites. "Elites" who are accused of "mercantilists who feed the coffers of private speculation, including vulture funds, with our tax money," the organizers said this morning.

The facts matter little in the face of the interests of a movement that seems more dedicated to attacking the Madrid Executive a few weeks before the elections than to defending public health in a region that can boast of some excellent health care parameters, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health on waiting lists in the National Health System.

And it is that The Community of Madrid is among the three regions in which patients have to wait the least time to undergo surgery: 65 days. Only Melilla, with 39 days, and the Basque Country, with 64, present better data. The same goes for waiting for specialized care. A patient in the Community of Madrid is seen by a specialist, on average, after 51 days, compared to 95 days in Aragon or 101 in the Canary Islands.

But the tides are not set to subside, at least any time soon. In fact, they have called another protest in Madrid for next Sunday March 26 and another in the provincial capitals of Andalusia, a region governed by the PP, for Saturday the 25th.