Image of health minister Manuel Pizarro
Next round in these tense negotiations that are taking a heavy toll on the SNS health service are due on Wedndesday. Image of health minister Manuel Pizarro by Tiago Petinga/ Lusa

No white smoke: doctors and government still at loggerheads

Portuguese State health service deeply compromised

With yet another weekend where hospitals up and down the country are struggling to maintain emergency services (roughly 38 reportedly already being ‘closed’), the much-desired agreement between doctors’ syndicates and the government over salaries/ conditions is still proving elusive.

Yesterday’s meeting, ostensibly to discuss the government’s renewed offer, ended with the leader of FNAM (doctors’ federation) Joana Bordalo e Sá claiming the offer was “worse than we could have imagined”.

With both sides giving different slants on the situation, the upshot is that syndicates feel the government has no political will to settle this impasse.

We are available for increases (in pay) to be phased”, Bordalo e Sá has repeatedly explained.

The 30% increase in base salaries doctors are calling for (citing at least a decade in which the value of their salaries has declined) is also not expected in any way to be retroactive.

But the government has stuck to its guns, offering a regime of ‘full dedication’ which doctors claim will simply see them worked even harder than they are already.

The next round in this endless see-saw on which the functioning of Portugal’s State health system is perched, increasingly precariously, has been scheduled for next Wednesday at 10.30am.

Meantime, all talk about ‘hiring doctors from South America’, has quietened considerably – at least in the press. Here, doctors have warned of the ‘differences in training’, particularly when it comes to quality, in South American countries. ND