Manuel Pizarro. Photo: Filipe Amorim/ Lusa/ EPA
Manuel Pizarro. Photo: Filipe Amorim/ Lusa/ EPA

All family health units to adopt ‘performance related’ pay

Reform will enable up to quarter of million people to (finally) get a family doctor

All Portugal’s new type of healthcare centres, Family Health Units (USF), are this year to see medical professionals’ pay linked to performance.

It is part of a reforming strategy that should enable between 200,000 and 250,000 patients to get their own family doctor for the first time, announced health minister Manuel Pizarro today.

In practice, according to Pizarro, with this change – which the Ministry wants to implement by the end of the year – there will be no more ‘model A and B’ USFs, “because all will be what are now model B’ USFs.

“This means that by the end of the year – probably in the fourth quarter – the current 268 ‘model A’ USFs will also have the remuneration of their professionals linked to performance,” he said, adding that “administrative quotas” for the transition between models will also be “completely eliminated”.

According to Pizarro, one of the advantages of this change is the widening of patient lists – so that up to a quarter of a milion Portuguese currently without an assigned family doctor will finally get one.

USFs that already operate with performance-related remuneration model “have more favourable results of professional activity”, he told Lusa – something that he argued is  “good” for the health professionals that integrate them.

“The pay increases for this number of USFs involve around ninety million euros for all professional health groups,” Pizarro added, suggesting this is also a way of attracting and retaining specialists to the SNS State health service.

To give an idea of how fast the change is being rolled out, over the 16 years since the first ‘model B’ USF was created, 340 such units have been created, 28 of them this year. 

Model B units are made up of teams of doctors, nurses and clinical secretaries who enter into a contract with the respective Health Centre Groups to provide a response to a given population, which then has access to a family doctor and nurse.

Professionals in USFs of this model take on greater responsibility for ensuring access to healthcare and for the health outcomes in the population, with this corresponding to an incentive materialised in a boost to what they receive in their pay packets.

Source : LUSA