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Health workers turn their backs on PM Sophie Wilmès

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès received a particularly cold welcome when she was visiting a hospital late on Saturday. In fact, health workers turned their backs on her when she arrived at the Sint-Pieters Hospital in Brussels. Nursing staff complain about a lack of political attention in this crisis and low wages. 

Sophie Wilmès visited the Delta and the Sint-Pieters Hospital late on Saturday, she announced on Twitter. She labelled the visits as "important moments of dialogue". She added that a spate of subjects were discussed, such as the health aspect and mental aspect, appreciation and health care funding."

However, the meeting started off on the wrong foot. Nursing staff are frustrated about low wages, and are unhappy with the lack of attention for the hard work they have been doing. When the PM arrives, the all turned their back on her - literally. While the visit should have been a discrete one, it soon made the national headlines.

Health workers want extra staff, higher wages and the end of the cuts in the sector. They are also unhappy about the way the government handled this crisis, making it possible for staff to be forced to come to work.

PM Wilmès said in a reaction that she understands the situation. "Everybody knows about the difficult situation they are in. This was so before the crisis and the problems have only grown. (...) It will be necessary to do something extra for nursing staff. That's for sure."