The doctor who was attacked is on the right with the backpack. | Gemma Marchena

At the PAC health centre in Son Gotleu (Palma) on Thursday, there was a protest against assaults on staff. This followed an incident on Tuesday when a doctor was attacked after she had refused to place a woman on sick leave.

As the doctor has explained, this was not a medical matter for which she or the health centre had responsibility; it was one for the hospital treating the woman. She called security in order to remove the woman because of her behaviour. Some twenty minutes later, the woman's husband stormed into the consulting room and threatened to kill her. He was restrained and was discovered to have been carrying a machete.

The doctor was back at the PAC on Thursday in order to be signed off on sick leave due to the stress of the attack. She said that the incident was the last straw. She had already been considering leaving the profession because of the onerous working conditions.

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"I don't feel like going back to work. My brain is telling me to get out of here. I have suffered verbal threats from people wanting tranquilisers so they can sell them on the black market, but I have refused to write them the prescriptions."

A nurse at the centre said that "here you do not live, you survive" in reference to the particular social issues that exist in Son Gotleu. "They respect us because we wear white and they know us, but it's not easy coming to work here." Another member of the staff observed that verbal assaults have become "normalised". "Doctors leave here burned out. We can't perform miracles." They try their best in dealing with the conditions in Son Gotleu, but many staff end up "just passing through" before moving to other health centres.

* Attacks on health personnel can result in prison sentences of four years. Son Gotleu is a notorious district, but health personnel in various parts of Mallorca have been subjected to assault.