Health system overhaul

Health service strike: 80% of staff join today’s walkout 

Doctors and nurses not part of today’s strike action

Hospitals and health centres throughout the country today are being affected by a strike involving health service workers who are not doctors or nurses.

The action is nonetheless set to cause disruption “in reception and consultation services” at a time when the country’s State health service is already battling to remain relevant on many fronts.

According to José Abraão, secretary-general of SINTAP – one of the syndicates involved – workers are “desperate” and “want to see problems resolved that have been dragging on for years”.

These are listed as “salary and career reviews, and compliance with collective bargaining agreements”.

There are various other issues, too. FNSTFPS – the main union calling today’s strike – has seen coordinator Elisabete Goncalves explain that problems affecting medical auxiliaries, senior health technicians and senior technicians in diagnosis and therapy, have simply “accentuated instability” within the health service, and harmed the national health service (SNS).

“These are situations that may seem diverse and distant, but which as a whole create demotivation among health workers, which is of no benefit in terms of retaining them”, she told Lusa.

Ms Gonçalves mainly denounced problems related to the career of these professionals, calling for the reinstatement of the career of auxiliary technicians and criticising the change in the career of senior diagnostic technicians, which “does not reflect the specificities of these workers”.

“As for senior health technicians, they have been fighting for years for promotion procedures that are not being carried out, which limits the value of these workers”, she explained.

“The time has come to say ‘enough’ over the government’s lack of answers for the health sector”, stressed José Abraão, who is coordinating protests today in the regional archipelago of the Azores.

All this comes when FNAM, the national federation of doctors, has threatened it too will ‘walk out’ if the government doesn’t concede more than it already has, ahead of the new Statute promised by the health minister, and on a day when national media reports further “constraints in casualty units at several hospitals”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com