SNS health service ratchets up €694 million in unpaid bills
The situation in SNS State hospitals has been one of generalised chaos for longer than most people can remember

Crisis in Portuguese health service: “Without reorganisation pieces will break off”

Marcelo encourages speedy resolution to Execution Direction’s state of limbo

​​​Portugal’s president has insisted on the need to determine the new organisational framework for the SNS (Portuguese State health service), warning that “if we don’t, pieces of the puzzle will start to break off”.

“Time is of the essence in politics”, he told journalists last night during an initiative at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon.

“The best idea in the world with a year and a half’s delay becomes a not so good idea,” he said – referring to the fact that the management tier created to get to grips with problems in the service, is still floundering in administrative limbo.

Asked if he feared the body’s CEO Fernando Araújo would resign (as some have predicted), the country’s head of State considered Mr Araújo is “a very determined person”. He “managed to turn around the São João Hospital” in Porto; he has shown himself to be “very effective” so, clearly, the answer is ‘yes and no’.

“We need to create the conditions for him (Mr Araújo) to be effective and for the effective team to be able to start and solve the various problems, some of which are old, (…) others are more recent,” said Marcelo.

Shortly afterwards, writes Lusa, Marcelo “was with the minister of health, Manuel Pizarro, at the presentation of the Maria José Nogueira Pinto Prize, organised by the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), at the Fronteira Palace in Lisbon. At the end of the ceremony, neither spoke to journalists”.

But today, Mr Pizarro is picking up on abandoned negotiations with doctors syndicates, whose work-to-rule over overtime has managed to raise the country’s hospitals to a new level of disfunction.

And tomorrow, it is understood prime minister António Costa will be meeting with Fernando Araújo himself.

In his statements last night to journalists, President Marcelo stressed that he hopes for “some dialogue between the ministry of health and the unions” today – and for further contacts with the Order of Physicians. 

“Let’s see if at the end of this week there are more reasons to talk about dialogue,” he mused, before returning to the central theme: the need to give Fernando Araújo the tools for the fairly gargantuan job ahead of him.

“What matters is that the new SNS management scheme is put in place as soon as possible,” he said. 

It is time to “see the whole picture, the complete puzzle – if not, pieces of the puzzle will start to break off”.

As the president stressed, it is in everyone’s interests “for the SNS to work, to remain fundamental, because those who can’t afford an alternative – and unfortunately there are millions of Portuguese (who cannot) – depend essentially on the SNS (…) good management (…) is fundamental”.

Source material: LUSA