young doctors

Medical interns begin Portugal’s “first ever national strike”

Further strikes scheduled for next week

With the state of the country’s health system in sharp focus, following yesterday’s news from Loures, Portugal’s medical interns (young doctors, technically still working under supervision) have begun the first day of a two-day national strike – the first ever in this country – called by the Independent Doctors Syndicate (SIM).

Next week, there will be further strikes by doctors – also called by SIM

Say reports, today’s strike coincides with a generalised strike over GP overtime, which “should have finished on Tuesday but will continue now until September 22”.

Like almost every form of public sector industrial action, the strike has been convened to ‘demand better salaries and professional development for the purposes of career progression’.

It is part of a wider plan of industrial action, promoted by SIM, to push for “a decent salary scale for all doctors”, explains Lusa.

According to SIM, medical interns represent a third of NHS doctors; they work 40 hour weeks, earn low salaries (around 7.66 euros/hour net), work overtime (paid and unpaid), are scheduled “in some cases” as specialists and pay out of pocket for their training “despite the legal obligation of the State/NHS to ensure it”.

SIM is calling for medical internships to be integrated into the “first level of the medical career”.

Doctors have already held a number of strikes this year: three days in July, and two days in the Central region earlier this month.

On 10 August, doctors’ unions and the government concluded a fifth extraordinary negotiating meeting without reaching an agreement on revising the salary scale – the main item on the list of demands presented at the negotiating table, which began in 2022.

“On the way out of the meeting, SIM secretary general Jorge Roque da Cunha said there was no reason to back down on strikes planned until September, claiming that the government was sticking to its proposal of a 1.6 per cent pay rise for most careers”, writes Lusa.

A source from the Ministry of Health however has said the government’s proposal, as it is,  already implies an overall increase of 24% on the salary bill for NHS doctors.

According to the Ministry, hospital doctors who are fully dedicated will have a 35-hour working week, plus an extra five hours of work per week, and a salary increase corresponding to two levels of pay, plus a 20 per cent supplement provided for in the new regime.

SIM believes that the proposed new regime of full dedication to the NHS “is unattractive” for doctors given the expected workload (300 hours of overtime per year).

A new negotiating meeting between the unions and the government is scheduled for 11 September.

Source: LUSA