Doctors’ strike: consultations and surgeries cancelled

“Doctors are outraged and want seriousness”, says federation

Today (Wednesday) sees the beginning of a two-day strike by “outraged” doctors who have been trying to negotiate with government paymasters over salaries and conditions for the past 14 months.

Talking to Lusa early this morning, president of the national federation of doctors which has called the strike, assured that minimum services will be “scrupulously complied with”, but nonetheless the next two days will see “great impact” in hospitals’ schedules.

Joana Bordalo e Sã expects consultations and surgeries will be affected/ cancelled, while discontent elsewhere is growing.

SIM, the independent syndicate of doctors, has called its own strike for later this month, while medical interns at Amadora-Sintra are refusing to carry out more than the statutory 150 hours limit on overtime.

Reason for the outrage, cited by Bordalo e Sã, lies in the government’s ‘small print’ of proposals so far.

Yes, there is the ‘offer’ of increased earnings, but only on acceptance of a 40-hour week (doctors want 35-hours, along the lines of other public sector workers) and a regime of ‘full dedication to the SNS health service’ (ie doctors working also in the private sector will not benefit). There is also the issue of extraordinary hours (overtime), which the government seeks to INCREASE from 150 hours per year to 350 hours; and maintenance of the current 18 hours service in A&E per week, when doctors say they can only manage 12.

Early this morning, more than 100 doctors held a protest outside Porto’s São João hospital, brandishing placards with messages like “ “In defence of the medical career it is necessary to save the SNS (national health service]. It is necessary to care for those who care.”

Says Bordalo e Sã: “Adhesion is high” – and there are another 36 hours of this to go.

Jornal de Notícias meantime has carried a report that the government is seeking to hire “around 300 Cuban doctors to work in Portugal soon for the next three years”.

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