Spain hailed its medic heroes during the coronavirus crisis, but as infections fall many frontline staff have been left depressed and traumatised by their experience, fearful of an insecure future. With 36.3 percent of public healthcare workers without a permanent contract, according to one survey, demonstrations calling for change are growing. “We have to end this low-budget health system,” says Patricia Calvo, a 40-year-old doctor, who made her own protective gear out of bin bags at the height of the pandemic.“I finished specialising in 2010 but I’m still on a temporary contract,” says the doctor from the southern city of Granada where she works with 14 other medics, most of whom are in the same situation. “There was a major outbreak at our medical centre, people died and (at the start) we had to deal with everything on our own.”When the virus hit, costing more than 28,400 lives, Calvo and her husband, who is also a doctor, spent months without hugging their children for fear of infecting them. And they themselves were afraid of getting sick in a country where 10 percent of healthcare workers contracted the virus, twice the rate of the general population.‘Abusive contracts’ “If there is a new outbreak in the autumn, we could find ourselves facing a very serious lack of staff,” warned Pilar Grande, a 48-year-old nurse at a Madrid hospital.“The staff are exhausted, there are a huge number of people off, a lot of anxiety and many people with symptoms of depression.”Since May, demonstrations calling for “quality public healthcare” have multiplied.Elena Barci, a 39-year-old auxiliary nurse in Madrid, says she’s worked for 12 years on “abusive contracts”.“They take you on for five days, from Monday to Friday” so they don’t need to pay for the weekend, “and the contract starts again on Monday”.In March, she was called in to help at a hospital in Madrid.“People were dying and you didn’t even have time to find out their name. You would leave in tears, while knowing that once it was all over, you’d be redundant again.”She left at the end of May, but was contracted again at the start of July and is now dreaming of “a decent contract”.Medical residents, or specialists, working at Madrid hospitals recently went on strike over salaries which have still not reached the levels they were in 2009 when the last financial crisis took hold.“Jobs are very insecure which creates widespread anger,” explained Dr Vicente Matas who has seen many younger colleagues leaving for France, Germany or Finland.“And the pandemic has been the last straw when they’ve had to face the virus without adequate means of protection and with tremendous workloads.”Bolstering public healthcareSpain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has pledged to invest nine billion euros into Spain’s decentralised public health system.