Health minister opens way to allowing private doctors to work within State service
Manuel Pizarro, centre, in parliament yesterday. Image: Lusa

Health minister opens way to allowing private doctors to work within State service

Idea based on lack of available doctors – and reality that shortfall will continue

With the government renewing salary and career negotiations with doctors syndicates today, health minister Manuel Pizarro has admitted in parliament that one of the solutions to make up for the shortfall of family doctors in Portugal is to allow private doctors to operate within the SNS health service.

It would be a ‘transitory measure’, he explained, while recruitment by the SNS State health service recovers – a situation that he has already stressed will take two to three years but which in the past has been seen as ‘chronic’.

The plan is something that was already included in the election manifestos of social democrats PSD and IL (Liberal Initiative). But it has taken Bloco de Esquerda by surprise.

BE coordinator Catarina Martins has accused the government of “preparing to privatise family health units” – something Mr Pizarro refutes.

Today’s meeting with doctors syndicates picks up from where negotiations left off last July, before Mr Pizarro took up his post.

In the Algarve earlier this week he referred to the chronic lack of doctors in the health service – and the difficulties in recruiting for the Algarve where living costs are higher than so many other areas – saying he believed it is “essential to create new hospital infrastructures” to attract medical personnel. “I am sure it will be easier to attract doctors and nurses and other professionals in a modern hospital like this (he gestured to the new facility ceded to the SNS by the HPA group in Lagos) than it was in the old hospital, in a building dating back 500 years”.


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