NEARLY 400 banner-waving staff at Son Dureta hospital in Palma launched a half-hour protest yesterday at the main entrance to demonstrate against the government's plans to cut the health budget next year.

Nursing union SATSE said that the move would be repeated tomorrow at 11am at Palma's Psychiatric Hospital and on Friday at 9am in front of the Balearic government headquarters at the Consolat de Mar. A spokesman for the union explained that it is at Son Dureta where the cuts will have the most far-reaching efffects. SATSE said it was unacceptable that the top hospital in the Balearics is having to go into the New Year with 17.3 million euros less than it had been allocated in 2009, 8.6 million of which relate to staff costs.

The Union said that the budgets for next year break agreements made between the government and health workers. “President Antich saying that out of respect he wanted deep-seated negotiations with the health workers hasn't made a blind bit of difference to the money allocated to us,” added the Union.