Image: José Sena Goulão/ Lusa

New protest calls for resignation of health minister

Family doctors demonstrate against government plan to recruit non-specialists for health centres

A new demonstration in Lisbon yesterday shows how little consensus there is between doctors employed by the State health system, and the government.

This latest beef is with the government plan to recruit non-specialists for health centres.

It is a ‘solution’, in the mindsets of decision-makers, to the dearth of qualified GPs available (and willing) to take up vacancies.

But as Miguel Guimarães, president of the general medical council has stressed, to doctors, “it puts the safety of patients at risk”.

In an opinion article published recently, the specialist in urology explained: “We don’t want that tomorrow a pregnant woman who cannot see an obstetrician is assigned a clinical pathologist; or for a cardiology patient who cannot see a cardiologist, to be seen by a rheumatologist. The government has the obligation to guarantee that every Portuguese citizen has the right to a family GP. They exist, and can be hired” (given the right conditions…)

Miguel Guimarães was at yesterday’s protest, as was Bloco de Esquerda coordinator Catarina Martins.

The mood among demonstrators was implacable: health minister Marta Temido “should have gone” by now: the government’s solution to the lack of sufficient family doctors is to take the country “back 40 years”

Nuno Jacinto, president of the Portuguese association of general and family doctors, has told Lusa that meetings have been scheduled with President Marcelo and other political parties, in a bid to reinforce family doctors’ case.

“We will continue to show our role and its importance until it is definitively recognised and guaranteed that only true family doctors will be accompanying patients in Portugal”.