The upcoming strike to be held by family doctors and paediatricians across Malaga province is the first step in rebuilding the public health service, according to Carlos Bautista, head of the 'Basta ya' group calling for better conditions for health service workers and services for their patients.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Bautista said: "We hope that we don't have to strike at all but if we cannot reach an agreement then the strike will go ahead, with all of the consequences it will bring."
The strike, called by the SMM medical union, will see partial stoppages on 16, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 October, with threats for the strike to continue into November if their demands are not met.
The main demands centre around staff numbers with shortages recently exacerbated during the summer months with little to no cover for staff on holiday leave (the SMM estimates that there is an overall shortage of 150 doctors and 50 paediatricians).
Other demands include more stable working conditions for those on longer contracts, ten minutes per patient (the average is currently six), equal pay (in Malaga the salary is 600 euros less than the national average), the ability to order more thorough tests, and the implementation of surveillance in health centres to avoid attacks on staff.
For its part, the Andalusian health service (SAS) stressed that it is increasing the number of staff contracted, carrying out a number of improvement works on health centres and purchasing new equipment.
The medical unions say this is insufficient and will only negotiate with those "able to make decisions".