Doctors’ strike on Wednesday: syndicate trashes “lying” government leaders

With deadlock announced last week, the two-day doctors strike, planned to start on Wednesday ahead of the Pope’s visit to Fátima, now looks inevitable.

One of the syndicates involved in the nationwide ‘go slow’ has today taken out a full-page announcement in ‘people’s tabloid’ Correio da Manhã to explain that minimum services that would normally remain available on Sundays and Bank Holidays will be “scrupulously adhered to”.

These translate into doctors “guaranteeing” sessions of chemo- and radiotherapy already planned for Wednesday and Thursday (May 10 and 11) was well as dialysis, internal emergency services, organ harvesting and transplanting, continuous palliative care and IVF treatments.

But as to the reasons for the strike, SIM – the independent syndicate of doctors – explains these emanate from the “deliberate disrespect” of the government and ministry of health.

“We know that politicians and government sources responsible will do everything to discredit doctors and their fight, and intoxicate public opinion and the media with myths and lies”, says the announcement, which then sets out to put the record straight, explaining in no uncertain terms that doctors are not only “not the highest paid civil servants in Portugal”, they have not timed their industrial action to “upset the visit of the Pope”.

Pointing out that the Pontiff will only be arriving in the afternoon of May 12, the syndicate says the fact that a Bank Holiday has been called for that day (in other words, perpetuating doctors’ minimum services by another 24-hours) has nothing to do with the strike, the dates of which were announced “weeks in advance”.

As to the nitty gritty of doctors’ strife, it centres on what doctors claim to be the authorities’ reluctance to recognise their work and calibre.

A bit like the strikes that have hit the NHS in UK, doctors here claim the government is purposely trying to “degrade the SNS (national health service), and ‘save money’ by hiring professionals from private service companies.

As the open letter addressed to “Portuguese citizens” explains, hiring temporary cover saves money that would be spent on salaries and the resulting “TSU” (unique social tax), despite the fact that the annual bill runs to many millions of euros (click here).

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