Doctors dig in: strikes this week and next

More strikes coming in November

The Independent Doctors’ Union (SIM) has today reiterated its intention to go ahead with the strikes planned for this week and next, claiming that the government’s proposals do not go beyond a 1.6% pay rise.

In an interview published by Público, Secretary of State for Health, Ricardo Mestre, promised a reorganisation of the sector and listed a series of measures that the government intends to develop in the coming months, but which for SIM continues to represent the underfunding of the National Health Service (SNS).

“Intentions are not enough, actions have to be presented. The fundamental issue is investment,” SIM’s president Jorge Roque da Cunha told Lusa.

In the Público interview, Ricardo Mestre said the government intends to extend Local Health Units throughout the country, with a new funding model based on the clinical risk of the population, which will be subdivided into three groups: healthy, chronically ill and complex cases.

He “guaranteed that the health budget will be the biggest ever next year”, writes Lusa. This year, according to the accounts he presented, there is almost €14 billion in approved expenditure.

But for Roque da Cunha this is all ‘bla bla’. He explained: “They have spent €220 million, out of the €550 million ‘approved’ in the (last) State Budget. This is the usual pattern in recent years. Normally what is executed is (only) 50%” of what is ‘announced’ in the press/ on paper.

Regarding the government’s plan for a “full dedication regime” – which is voluntary, and requires doctors to work solely for the State health service, receiving a corresponding salary increase – Roque da Cunha said that the union has reservations, as it doesn’t see any proposal above 1.6%, which doctors have already rejected.

“We remain very concerned and very pessimistic. The inability of the SNS (State health service) to retain doctors will continue,” he said.

With this in mind, SIM is maintaining strikes planned for this week (Wednesday and Thursday) in the Algarve, the Alentejo and the Azores.

Next week, regional strikes will continue in the North and Lisbon, as part of a timetable that runs until the end of September.

And in November, FNAM, Portugal’s National Federation of Doctors, has called a national strike for the days of 14 and 15, again demanding fair wages and decent working conditions for all doctors in struggling SNS health service.

FNAM is also planning to send a delegation to Brussels to deliver a manifesto in defence of public health to the Portuguese members of the European Parliament and the European Commissioner for Health.

Source: LUSA