“Frustrated” doctors threaten new forms of strike action

“The health ministry seems to be pushing doctors into a strike they don’t want”. This was the view of syndicates following a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) with health minister Marta Temido in which doctors received “no answers” to any of the issues inflaming them.

The next steps will be to call a “medical form” next week and discuss new forms of combat.

Roque da Cunha, secretary general of SIM – the syndicate of independent doctors – says these will probably involve his members “toughening their position” but that strike action is in fact the last option they want, as it will only further prejudice patients already faced with long waiting lists for consultations and surgeries.

Whatever happens, any decisions for selective strike action are unlikely to come into effect before May.

João Proença, of FNAM – the national federation of doctors – stressed that unless the government responds to doctors’ demands, strikes will become inevitable.

“We don’t have an alternative”, he told Público.

The profession’s ‘demands’ centre on reducing the hours doctors are made to spend in A&E departments, reducing GP’s patient limit to levels pre-troika (patient numbers were increased during the crisis years from 1,550 per doctor to 1,990), reviewing salaries and career structures and making much-needed alterations to the medical placement system.

Público stresses there are in fact many issues on the table, but the bottom line is that doctors feel they are getting nowhere.

Says tabloid Correio da Manhã, they are not alone: “The minister of health is the target of criticism by nurses who complain of her lack of answers too”.

Indeed, Temido is meeting with nurses syndicates today in another meeting over their long-running issues over frozen pay scales and promotions.

The national picture is not helped by developments in the archipelgos where Madeira, for example, has already conceded to the demands of nurses and teachers, increasing pay and advancement possibilities in a phased-timetable.


Former president of the Republic Cavaco Silva said yesterday that the responsibility for the degradation of the health service lies with the government as a result of its decision to reduce IVA payable by the restaurant sector.

“The benefits conceded” to restaurants “are being paid by health service patients by way of reducing the quality of services offered them”, he told the audience at a book launch in Lisbon.

Describing health service patients as people who simply don’t have the money to opt for private medicine, Cavaco Silva classified the PS government’s decision to reduce IVA as “profoundly wrong and profoundly unjust”.

The move “illustrates well the hypocrisy of parties that seek to deceive the Portuguese people with false speeches about the defence of the most disadvantaged”, he added.

[email protected]