Large rally protests Spain's health care austerity

Large rally protests austerity, proposed sell-offs of parts of Spain's national health care

Associated Press

MADRID (AP) -- Madrid residents and medical workers angered by budget cuts and plans to part-privatize bits of their cherished national health service are protesting by marching through some of the capital city's most famous squares.

More than 5,000 people were rallying in central Puerta del Sol square on Sunday, according to police estimates. Organizers estimate attendance at 75,000, many dressed in clinical white and blue.

Fatima Branas, a spokeswoman for organizers, says privatization plans are short-sighted because they did not take into account that savings could be made without selling off services.

She says "what their plans really mean is a total change of our health care model and a dismantling of the system used."

The government maintains cuts are needed to secure health services during a recession.

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