CEO Fernando Araújo
CEO Fernando Araújo has warned that November 'could be dramatic' in Portugal's State health service, if a pay deal with doctors has not been reached. Image: Lusa

CEO hired to pull State health service together “could resign any day now”

Fernando Araújo’s ‘management structure’ has its hands tied

With Portugal’s State health system in complete disarray, the man whose expertise promised to ‘change everything’ is apparently ready to resign, in frustration.

Fernando Araújo was made CEO of a new tier of management exactly a year ago. The entity, made up of five ‘bodies’, was grandly christened the “Executive Direction of the SNS national health service” – and the country was geared up to expect ‘great things’.

Since then, the situation in the nation’s hospitals has lurched from bad to worse. No-one can remember the SNS health service being in the mess it is in today, with desperate shortages of well-qualified doctors, vital services closed and emergency services failing regularly.

And now it appears Mr Araújo has ‘had enough’ – largely because his hands have been tied since the outset.

The ‘statutes’ of the Executive Direction have not been approved. If this sounds dry and irrelevant, it may be the first, but it is certainly not the second. Without ‘statutes’, the entity has no ‘powers’. More importantly, without statutes, the entity has no money…

Talking on his regular commentary slot last night, SIC’s Sunday political personality Luís Marques Mendes, suggested the whole situation is ‘offensive’. How can one ‘hire’ someone to do a job, without giving him/ her the tools to do it?

Up till now, the press appears to have heard nothing from Mr Araújo. But stories today stress that fears he will “slam the door shut” on this challenging job are running through “the corridors of the ministry (of health)”.

Sources recognise the “enormous frustration”, says SIC Notícias, because the Executive Board “has the responsibility, but no team or instruments to solve the problems of the country’s health service”.

An example of this predicament is that Mr Araújo “does not even have a driver to transport him around the country”.

The same sources describe a team that is “completely exhausted”.

“They’re frying on a low heat,” said one. SIC concludes that all the sources it has spoken to insist that “political powers have reason to be concerned”.

To be fair, political powers have so many issues in the country’s health service that approving a bunch of statutes is possibly the least of their problems.

Now that this ‘possibility’ that the ‘wonder’ CEO is considering leaving has been planted firmly in the press, it remains to be seen if Mr Araújo actually jumps ship – or if statutes miraculously appear, giving him the autonomy his board so desperately requires.

It should be mentioned that decisions by the executive board this far have caused a great deal of angst in certain quarters, even without the back-up of statutory power.

[email protected]