Portugal’s health service “cannot wait for new government to take office”
On the day that doctors and the government return to negotiations, television commentator and lecturer in international health Tiago Correia has told SIC that “the time of the SNS (Portuguese State health service) is not the time of politics; the SNS cannot wait for elections and then for a new government to take office“.
Doctors and the government return to negotiations this afternoon. The unions want to recover issues that were under discussion at the last meeting, before the crisis that brought down the government – namely the reinstatement of 35 hours of work, an end to overtime beyond that provided for by law and a pay rise above what has already been proposed by the government. The unions say that an agreement is more necessary than ever, but that political will is lacking.
“For Tiago Correia, the approaching elections (on March 10) may dictate a different outcome to previous negotiations”, ventures SIC.
“The political crisis weakens the government’s position”, he told the news channel. The unions “know there is greater scrutiny” by the electorate, and the winter season, and all the complications it tends to bring, make a solution even more ‘urgent’. Indeed, for the outgoing PS government, the image that it ‘left’ the country’s health system in a state of chaos will not be a plus-point on the election campaign trail.
There is also the question of the political future of health minister Manuel Pizarro. It is widely believed Mr Pizarro intends to remain in politics, and has his eyes set on being elected mayor of Porto. Thus, he too, will not want to be seen as a political actor who achieved nothing… He will be “thinking about his own future in local and/ or other politics”, says Correia.
And then there is the ‘reality’ that the current chaotic situation in the country’s hospitals “will tend to get more complicated as the winter progresses“.
“The only reason the situation isn’t more serious at the moment is because the weather conditions haven’t been as adverse as they sometimes are at this time of year,” Correia considered.
Thus, if there is no agreement today/ no solution in sight, “we’re going to have a worse December than November: the weather will undoubtedly ‘worsen’ from the perspective of health issues, and looming festivities will ensure virus propagation.
One ‘ray of sunshine’ in this miserable scenario is that January brings with it a ‘new year’, and thus doctors’ overtime strike will be essentially meaningless, as they will all be starting with a clean slate, which means each doctor will have to work 150 hours of overtime before the ban takes effect.
Source: SIC Notícias