Head of SIM, Jorge Roque da Cunha. ANTÓNIO PEDRO SANTOS/LUSA

Doctors syndicate appeals to government to implement ‘real recovery’ of Portuguese health service, or “face catastrophe”

SIM, the independent syndicate of doctors, has appealed to the government in an open letter addressed to the health minister today to implement ‘a real recovery’ of the SNS health service – or face ‘catastrophe’. 

Just as focus in the UK is on the millions of people now stacked up waiting for treatment due to the singular combat of Covid-19, doctors here are warning that unless extra professionals are hired as a matter of urgency, the quality of care in Portugal will continue to deteriorate. 

Already, says SIM, the government’s approach to the pandemic has made it “impossible for innumerable and serious pathologies to be detected in time” and seen “very dangerous postponements” when it comes to medical and diagnostic actions “in which opportunity is key to a good prognosis”.

“Our patients are not taken in, they are not taken care of, they are  not treated. The sum total of this reality threatens a regression on a scale never seen before”, warns the syndicate.

This has however been ‘the writing on the wall’ since the start of the pandemic. It is not ‘news’ as such, particularly in a country where waiting lists of life-changing surgeries can take years (click here).

Explain reports, under secretary of State for health António Lacerda Sales has announced new intake of 1,100 doctors and the training of around 3,900 clinicians.

He said last month: “Beyond this, in January 2,032 doctors applied for general training while 1,867 initiated specialist training – the largest number since 2009″.

Since 2015, the SNS has in fact been reinforced with more than 24,000 professionals, among them “more than 4,000 doctors”.

The issue nonetheless is that 2015 saw the SNS health service pared to the bone as a result of decades of underinvestment.

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