madrid protest
© Burak Akbulut - Anadolu AgencyAn aerial view of the gathered health workers, holding banners, to demonstrate against health sector privatization, a staffing shortage, and difficult working conditions at Cibeles Square in Madrid, Spain on February 12, 2023.
Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of the Spanish capital on Sunday to protest what they say is the crumbling public healthcare system in the region of Madrid.

Government figures estimate that around 250,000 participated in the protest, while organizers claimed up to a million people took part to express their outrage.

Comment: Governments repeatedly underestimate those in attendance, and for obvious reason, and a reasonable estimate would probably be around at least 500,000 people.

This is the second massive protest over public healthcare in Madrid since November - the same month that family doctors and pediatricians began an indefinite strike that shows no sign of ending.

Medical unions argue that a lack of healthcare staff and resources has left doctors overwhelmed and unable to provide patients with the treatment they deserve.

In Madrid, 27% of people with healthcare problems were unable to see their primary care doctor last year, according to the protest organizers FADSP.

FADSP alleges that Madrid's conservative regional government "wants to destroy the healthcare system for all to favor the private sector."

Meanwhile, the conservative regional government said both the protests and medical strike are "purely political" and organized by left-wing parties.

In a statement on Sunday, Popular Party politician Alfonso Serrano insisted that Madrid has never spent more money on the public healthcare system.