Ebola outbreak: Furious medics protest as Spanish premier visits Madrid hospital


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A high-profile first visit by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital to show support for medics in the front line of Spain’s battle against Ebola risked being overshadowed today by a small but vocal protest by health workers, both against Mr Rajoy’s appearance and over allegedly precarious working conditions.

Mr Rajoy had no problems making a five-minute speech praising the hospital’s work against Ebola, albeit from a side door rather than from the main entrance, where the protesters had assembled. He emphasised that the government’s priority “is called Teresa Romero”, the nurse who contracted Ebola and who is being treated in Carlos III.

On the other side of the building, however, the protesters, clad in medical uniforms, called for Mr Rajoy’s resignation and repeatedly touched their faces – the gesture allegedly made by Ms Romero that caused her to be infected. Some then threw their latex hospital gloves at the Prime Minister’s officials as they made for their car after his speech.

If running the gauntlet of protesters’ wrath had not formed part of Mr Rajoy’s plans, the demonstrators subsequently insisted that it was wrong to blame protocol errors by Ms Romero for her contracting Ebola, as some in Mr Rajoy’s PP party have done. The protesters also claimed that their own working conditions were overly precarious.


“They bombarded a patient [Ms Romero] under medication with questions, and under those circumstances you’d say anything,” one demonstrating nurse told El País newspaper. Others claimed that the medics treating Ms Romero and the other cases in quarantine “had volunteered – but as a result of coercion”. Local health authority officials have repeatedly denied this.

Previously, 30 physicians at La Paz hospital – a joint operation with Carlos III – had published a letter claiming that the Carlos III hospital infrastructure  is “clearly deficient, which constitutes a health risk both for the workers and for the rest of the population”.

The government created a new ministerial committee to reinforce its handling of the outbreak.