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Health minister Manuel Pizarro. Image: ANTÓNIO PEDRO SANTOS/LUSA

Minister “expects to hire 200 newly-trained doctors” by May “at latest”

Around 7,000 doctors needed, according to PCP

Health minister Manuel Pizarro has said that around 200 doctors will be hired in a new recruitment drive which he hopes to open this month or May “at the latest”.

“I hope that in April or May at the latest, we will hold the tender for the placement of specialists who have now finished their speciality (…), and I hope that this will allow us to hire around 200 doctors,” he told the parliamentary committee on Health, where he was being heard at the request of PCP communists “to obtain clarification regarding the lack of professionals” generally throughout the SNS State health service.

According to PCP’s João Dias de Silva 200 new doctors signifies a drop in the ocean, as around 7,000 doctors are actually needed.

Dias de Silva said that on March 15 this year, for instance, the service had 5,482 GPs – but today there are 45 less. “In just 20 days” another batch of doctors has either left voluntarily or retired.

Manuel Pizarro however suggested the number of people without a GP needs updating – a process underway now.

“This will lead to an improvement in the numbers,” he said, admitting nonetheless the difficulty of ensuring a family health team for citizens, a “very large number” which “do not have adequate primary health care coverage”.

Pizarro said he has “high expectations” that the conclusion of ongoing negotiations with medical unions regarding the reformulation of the career structures “will come to a good end” and allow for more adequate compensation of professionals and thus solve part of the issues with recruitment.

He also said that the Portguese health service has in all medical specialities “more human resources” than ever before, but that what is happening “is that the need for professionals is ever greater.

“When we transform diseases that were rapidly fatal into chronic diseases, where people maintain a good quality of life, this requires many more professionals to do follow-up”, he explained.

Equally, he highlighted the “very serious problem of excessive concentration of care in the emergency service“.

“We have a complete imbalance of the system, which consumes monumental resources in A&E, where we have an influx of people much higher than normal”.

Portugal has about 600 visits to emergency wards per 1,000 people per year, said the minister, when most European countries have around 350.

Source: LUSA