Situation in State health Service has become “an emergency”
After 15 months of fruitless ‘negotiations’ with the Socialist majority government, Portugal’s national federation of doctors has decided to think outside the box.
In an Open Letter to President Marcelo, the entity argues the case for an independent mediator – someone who can represent doctors, without the red button their presence seems to press when face-to-face with government representatives.
The situation, argues the federation, has reached the point where the continued existence of the country’s State health service is at risk.
This is exactly the same scenario outlined by teachers, for example, with regard to the situation in State education. Teachers have spent the last academic year on picket lines, and appear to be planning the same strategy for the next. Doctors have just come out of a further round of strike action, with more planned (the next strikes, by junior doctors at the end of this month).
The message is that every strike/ work-to-rule pushes consultation backlogs and surgical waiting lists further into the mire. The quality of healthcare has been suffering for years – doctors now believe it is reaching a crunch point.
Marcelo is in receipt of their Open Letter – the idea being that he will bring some pressure to bear on prime minister António Costa to get him also to think a little ‘outside the box’.
Right now, the ‘offer on the table’ from the government is a pay increase of 1.6%, with conditions that depend on compliance with certain requirements. Doctors have long said they are being worked into the ground, and more recently, added ‘insult’ from paymasters came with potential ‘reinforcements from Brazil’ being offered better salary and working conditions than national doctors.
The ball is in President Marcelo’s court.