Healthcare workers angry over new laws for immigrants

Public health protest in Madrid last month
Health workers protest in Madrid last month

Healthcare employees across Spain are uniting as conscientious objectors in protest at new laws that require them to deny treatment to illegal immigrants.

The new royal decree, to be passed on Friday, removes the right to free health care for illegal immigrants in Spain. The decree comes into effect on September 1st.

As a result of the change any immigrants without a residency card will be denied treatment at public hospitals. Exceptions will be made if the person seeking treatment is under 18, pregnant or requires emergency treatment.

The change is part of Mariano Rajoy’s austerity measures intended to reduce public spending to facilitate meeting the budget deficit target set by Europe.

However, healthcare workers have hit out at the decry saying it is “unethical” and “inhumane” and they are registering their objections.

Across Spain over 800 doctors have already signed forms, distributed by the Society of Family and Community Medicine (Semfyc),  objecting to the law.

The doctors are not alone and the government faces a serious backlash against this decry. The Medical College Association has said the new law “violates the ethical principles of medicine and the code of professional ethics”.

Also against it, the Spanish Association of Neuropsychiatry said the law marked “a regression in human rights” in Spain.

Since the measure was announced in April protests have taken place outside hospitals and health ministries across the country.

A number of Spain’s autonomous regions, heavily indebted and with new budgetary  restrictions, have said they will defy Madrid and continue to provide basic healthcare and medication for anyone that needs it, regardless of their residency status.