In Belgium there is no sign of an end to the doctor's strike - now six days old.
In Belgium there is no sign of an end to the doctor's strike - now six days old. Today (Tuesday), there were widespread demonstrations by workers, as there have been every day since the strike began, but today's protests were made even more angry by the news that a baby in North Belgium is reported to have died through lack of medical care. Two doctors have been arrested while the authorities investigate.
There were large protest marches in several towns. Five thousand workers marched through a town near Liege. Thunderflashes were thrown but there were no incidents. Many of the marchers were women who carried banners with slogans such as: "Belgian Doctors Value Human Life in Terms of Big Money" - "Assassins" - "The Government Must Act" - "Respect Your Hippocratic Oath". The country's hospitals are at saturation point, and in Brussels itself serious cases are sent to the military hospital. In the city's main hospital, which normally has a 450-bed capacity, over 600 patients are being treated and beds have been set up in the canteen. (Other hospitals are beginning to run short of medical supplies and a call has gone out from Red Cross for volunteer ambulance drivers.) To help with the situation the Army Medical Corps has established a 550-bed emergency hospital in a school in an industrial suburb of Brussels.
(At least 95 per cent of the country's doctors are no strike, and many of them have left the country to avoid possible "requisitioning" by the Government Belgium's 200 dentists are also on strike and the Opticians' Union have said they will come out if sympathy in the doctors are molested.)