Spain’s Madrid region has opened a new hospital to treat Covid-19 patients which cost €100 million ($120 million) to build, as unions raised questions over how it will be staffed due to a lack of healthcare workers in the country.

The new hospital’s final cost was more than double the originally planned budget, and the country’s shortage of staff has seen opposition politicians and labor unions criticize the government project. At the inauguration of the building on Tuesday, Regional President Isabel Diaz Ayuso was greeted by protesters.

In a statement about the launch, the Madrid regional government did not address the staffing concerns raised, only saying that “hiring will start gradually according to healthcare needs,” without elaborating further.

The country’s SATSE nursing unit criticized the spending, as they believe “nothing will be solved” and it has only been constructed as a vanity project, without the necessary planning or preparations for its long-term future. Their main fear is that existing hospitals, already understaffed and overstretched, will lose crews and resources that will instead support the new site. 

The new medical facility was built in only three months and will ultimately have a 1,056 bed capacity, including 48 spaces in the intensive care unit. However, initially, it’s opening a 240-bed wing and requires 669 staff. 

Due to the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Spain, the country has been under a nationwide curfew, with individuals required to stay at home between 11pm and 6am, and a state of emergency that’s set to last until early May 2021. Regional leaders can modify the terms of their local curfew and, if necessary, limit domestic travel. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Spain has reported 1,628,208 confirmed cases – the second-highest number in Western Europe – and 44,668 deaths, according to World Health Organization data.

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