Rally in Berlin: 130,000 hospital workers at protest

Rally in Berlin: 130,000 hospital workers at protest BerlinĀ  - Doctors, nurses and other hospital workers demonstrated in Berlin Thursday against government plans to reduce funding for Germany's dense network of local hospitals.

Police said 130,000 people took part in the rally at the landmark Brandenburg Gate, one of the biggest protests ever in Germany about health policy. Germany has 2,100 hospitals for 80 million people.

Hospitals belonging to municipalities and the churches have resented the expansion of clinics run by private companies, charging that the newcomers aim for efficiency, not public service. Many hospitals paid for their staff to attend the rally.

Speakers for the "Save the Hospitals Campaign" demanded that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government alter a government policy of reducing the number of available hospital beds.

A spokesman for German health insurers, Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg, rejected the campaign, saying, "The equation of fewer hospitals with worse health care is false." He said German hospitals did not need more funding to improve, but more competition. (dpa)