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"Abusive" minimum service requirements reduce effects of first strike days

Around 200 striking doctors and supporters joined Monday's protest.
Around 200 striking doctors and supporters joined Monday's protest. / Ñito Salas
  • The Health authority says that 13% of primary healthcare doctors went on strike this week, while the unions say it was more like 63%

The regional Health authority claimed this week that just 13% of primary healthcare workers (GPs and paediatricians) went on strike on Monday and Tuesday this week, the first two days of ongoing action called to express the professionals' frustration at cuts and lack of resources in the Andalusian Health Service (SAS). In other words, 97 doctors out of a total of 749 hung up their white coats and walked out of their surgeries.

The doctors' union Sindicato Médico de Málaga (SMM) and the Basta Ya protest group, however, said that in reality 63 per cent of doctors had supported the strike and accused the authority of "twisting the figures".

The union and protest group also complained that prior to the strike days, the authority had established compulsory minimum services that were "abusive", as high as 50, 60 or 70 per cent in some health centres. This, they argued, prevented many doctors from joining the strike and reduced the impact of the action.

"There were more doctors on duty in health centres to comply with minimum services [50%] than the entire staff during the summer holidays [30%]," said Basta Ya spokesperson, Carlos Bautista, at the protest in Malaga on Monday.

Around 200 people gathered outside the Health Department offices in Calle Córdoba, including representatives from other provinces, retired doctors and patients.

Further strike dates have been set for 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 October if no agreement is reached with the authority.