Fierce critic of health service management gets new top job
Dr Fernando Araújo is almost certain to be named this week as the CEO of the SNS' new health executive

Fierce critic of health service management gets new top job

Fernando Araújo tasked with reorganising Portugal’s ailing SNS

Fernando Araújo has been named today as the CEO of the SNS executive – the new ‘top tier’ of the national health service, devised to be free (or as free as possible) from political pressures.

The 56-year-old doctor and current president of Porto’s São João Hospital will be tasked with reorganising the country’s ailing health service so that it ‘works’ a great deal better than it does currently.

Araújo, a former health secretary in the days of health minister Adalberto Campos  Fernandes, was tipped as a contender to take over from health minister Marta Temido. When the job went to Manuel Pizarro, many felt the government had ‘missed a chance’ to show ambition. Thus, the fact that Dr Araújo is coming on board – to be very much captain of his own ship – is good news.

It means he will have to cease writing regular columns for Jornal de Notícias – where he has become famous for attacking the management of the State health service.

Announcing Dr Araújo’s appointment last night in interview with CNN, prime minister António Costa said the new CEO will have to “reinforce the need and potential of (the health service to ) work as a network”.

The PM justified the new position – indeed the creation of the new tier of the health service – on the basis that day-to-day operation of hospitals must be “independent of the vicissitudes of government”.

Signing off on what will probably have been his last newspaper column, Dr Araújo has already hinted at the focus of his mission – stressing the “importance of constructing a new strategy” for the country’s health service.

“Disease preventions, focusing on its main determinants, will have to be a cornerstone of future health policy, ” he wrote.

For now, President Marcelo has still to ‘rubber stamp’ the new SNS Statute before Dr Araújo can take up his post. The head of State is unlikely to do this before Friday (when he returns from a State visit to Angola).

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com