New data shows that 74% of doctor vacancies in the Algarve and Alentejo have gone unfilled over the last two years.
Out of 437 jobs available, only 113 were filled, according to Diário de Notícias. In the Algarve, only 93 places were taken up in a universe of 207 vacancies.
It is an issue that has been plaguing the regions for years, and which the government has perennially tried to tackle with “incentives”.
A new list of perks is due to be published in state newspaper Diário da República.
Some of the measures include making it easier for doctors to move their families with them, or offering 11 consecutive holiday days, says DN.
Doctors’ association leader José Manuel da Silva says the new incentives are “clearly superior” to those that came before, but warns that issues keeping doctors away from the Algarve and Alentejo are not solely related to money.
“It is the excessive workload, the poor conditions, the lack of new medical equipment and technology,” he said. “Everything is worse in the Alentejo and Algarve as they are the regions that receive the lowest levels of investment.”
Silva added that a “true incentive” would be to pay all the extra hours that doctors work.
“That would solve a large part of the problems,” he said.
João Moura Reis, president of the Algarve’s regional health authority (ARS), hopes the new incentives will work.
ARS Algarve is nonetheless also trying to attract more interns. “When doctors are prepared to apply for jobs, they usually already have a family and have grown roots in the places where they were training,” he explained. Thus ARS Algarve has been investing in interns, to try and get as many young doctors as possible trained-up in here.
“In 2016, we had 145 interns and this year we have 156,” he added.