MORE than 11,000 doctors across Madrid’s hospitals have been called to an indefinite strike over temporary work contracts that began on Tuesday morning.

A minimum of 50% of usual hospital services will be guaranteed during the industrial action under rules by the Ministry of Health with 100% services guaranteed in critical units such as dialysis, emergency services, operating theatres and intensive care.

The strike has been organised by several medical unions including Amyts, Doctors United for their Rights (MUD), and We are Emergencies (SomosUrgencias).

Doctors across Madrid took to picket lines outside hospitals in the region to denounce the dominance of short-term contracts in Sermas, Madrid’s public health agency.

Over half of specialist doctors within the Madrid region are employed on temporary contracts, a far higher percentage than in other Spanish regions.

Unions are also protesting over the way doctors are appointed to permanent specialist positions, with specialists judged through a general exam (OPE) rather than on specific expertise they have gained in their field. 

The strike is going ahead even after a last minute deal was struck between Spain’s Health Ministry and the unions to make 1,600 doctors permanent.

A recent report from the Spanish Federation for the Defence of Public Health (FDASP) revealed that Madrid’s public healthcare system was the worst across Spain, closely followed by the Balearic Islands and then Catalunya.

The research published last month cited “very serious” underfunding problems, “intolerable” delays in appointments and huge inequalities between communities, with some in a “critical” situation.  

According to the FDASP, Madrid is the most underfunded health care system in Spain and the one that spends the least amount per inhabitant.

It described situation as “scandalous” with 47.5% of medical professionals assigned between 1,500 and 2,000 patients and 6.07 percent above that figure.

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