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German health workers protest at lack of funds

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German health workers protest at lack of funds

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More than 80,000 German healthcare workers have held a protest in Berlin to denounce a lack of funding in an ever-more expensive sector. Doctors, nurses, carers and hospital managers from all over Germany were bussed to the rally.

The government yesterday pledged just over three billion euros to hospitals from 2010, but workers say that is not enough and that they are being forced into cutting costs. “We’re demonstrating today for better conditions in the German health service so that we can get back the money we’ve been saving in recent years and so that we can have more time for patients and more jobs for carers and doctors,” said one protestor.

Germany’s main hospital workers group says the industry is 6.7 billion euros short of cash for 2008 and 2009 and warns that spending caps are putting patients’ lives at risk. Another demonstrator said: “We want to go home happy every night and say ‘yes, we’ve done our best.’ We can’t do that now, we go home with heavy consciences.”

Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said yesterday that the law is good for patients and hospital employees. Many health workers disagree.

More than 100,000 jobs have gone in the last decade, in which time the number of people needing treatment has risen 15 percent. Costs including medicine and electricity bills have also added to the cash shortfall.