Health service costs go through the roof

The Portuguese State had spent 19.6 per cent of its total social services spending budget on health by August.

And 5.62 billion Euros of cash from the State Budget 2010 to the Portuguese National Health Service (SNS) skyrocketed by 7.5 per cent for the same period.

With the worsening of the economic crisis, spending on social security benefits have also shot up.

On the one hand, expenditure from unemployment benefits and back-to-work kick-start grants have now topped 214 million Euros for the period. On the other, professional training grants have climbed 65.2 per cent – at least 272 million Euros.

But the budgetary lion’s share has come from pension payouts, 7.95 billion Euros, with an increase of 4.2 per cent due to population ageing.

In total, social contribution payouts have soared by an extra 719 million Euros so far this year because of these factors.

The National Association of Pharmacies (Associação Nacional de Farmácias) has sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to suspend a six per cent reduction in the price of drugs in order to help reduce the budget deficit and keep health spending down.

The pharmacists’ association is insisting that their members cannot cope with further reductions.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister José Sócrates defended his Government’s record on prudent health spending claiming it had risen by around 2.5 per cent per annum compared with the European Union average of over four per cent per annum.

Speaking in Porto at the end of last week, the Prime Minister rejected suggestions from the opposition PSD to slim down the National Health Service to cater for only the most disadvantaged in society.