Pledge only verbal so far; “needs to be put into writing”
Following his meeting this morning with the minister of health, Carlos Cortes reports the government IS open to reopening negotiations with doctors on issues that had been closed – namely the 35-hour working week.
Leaving a meeting held at his request, Cortes suggested the ministry is ‘open to matters related to the medical career’, countering this with the fact that many of the issues discussed today require a written commitment from the ministry by the end of next month.
“In the overwhelming majority of issues that have to do with the Order of Physicians, the deadlines are very limited. Next month, by the end of the month, many of the issues that were discussed here must have a written commitment from the ministry of health,” he said, nonetheless acknowledging that this time “there was a different attitude” from the ministry.
All the proposals discussed today will be presented at an emergency meeting of the Medical Forum – a platform that brings together all medical organisations – which the Order will schedule for October 12 in Coimbra.
One of the topics discussed at the two and a half hour meeting was the opening of a dossier for a new medical career: “This has been a medical demand for several years. We need to have a medical career that takes into account the health sector, justice and defence (…), without forgetting that there are doctors in the public, private and social sectors,” said Cortes.
Regarding the lack of medical resources in the SNS State health service, Carlos Cortes also prioritised a plan to attract and retain doctors in public services: “Very little, or practically nothing, has been done to attract, retain and keep doctors in the SNS, (…) in what should be a priority of the SNS reform,” he pointed out.
The Order also pointed to the need for better training and more space for training in the SNS.
According to Cortes, it is now up to syndicates to negotiate with the ministry, while the Order will negotiate with the government on issues that fall within its remit, namely the training of doctors.
“There will be room for dialogue on trade union issues (…) and the Order has asked for this dialogue to start quickly and for it to be brief and not take 14 months like the previous one did,” he added.
Asked about the current difficulty of response in accident and emergency departments – due to the refusal of many doctors to work more than the 150 hours of annual overtime they are obliged to – Carlos Cortes said: “The Order does not provide a response in the emergency services. This is the responsibility of the ministry of health and the government. Hospital care is the responsibility of the government, which has to create the right conditions for its professionals, in this case the doctors, to be able to give a positive response to the public.”