Greek doctors, paramedics protest severe health cuts

TAGS: Protest, Strike

Holding black helium balloons and parading an effigy of a dying patient, striking public hospital and ambulance workers marched through Athens to protest severe cuts in public funding for the national health service.

Health care workers held a 24-hour strike Thursday, leaving hospitals running with emergency staff.

Protesters marched past 10 state-run hospitals before reaching the health ministry.

Per capita spending on health has been axed by a nearly a third since 2009 as the government made cuts required by its bailout programs. That has created longer waiting lists for treatment, staff shortages, and frequent medical equipment failure at Greek hospitals.

Health unions accuse the left-wing government of delaying plans to hire more hospital staff, which they argue would cover just 20 percent of jobs lost due to austerity measures.