Miguel Pinto Luz says it is time to focus on 'real problems' within the State health service: Image: Nuno Ferreira Santos
Miguel Pinto Luz says it is time to focus on 'real problems' within the State health service: Image: Nuno Ferreira Santos

Opposition “demands government suspend local health units”

“Stop with the bureaucratic fantasies” and sort out real problems

Portugal’s largest opposition party, PSD, is calling on the government to suspend the entry into force of the new Local Health Units, asking it to focus on the real problems of State health service – namely the chaos in emergency departments.

“Now is the time to discuss political options and live in day-to-day management in the government area. It’s not the time to make hasty reforms just to appoint cronies to a few posts,” said PSD vice-president Miguel Pinto Luz at a press conference at the party’s national headquarters.

The conference was called to highlight the Dantesque state of the health service in Portugal.

Said Pinto Luz, “stop with the bureaucratic fantasies. The new ULS must be suspended. It’s urgent that this caretaker government refocuses its actions and provides answers to the immediate problems of the health service…” 

The PSD “demands that the resigning government (…) immediately suspend the entry into force of the Decree-Law establishing the creation of the Local Health Units”, as it believes the law will only “add problems to an already very delicate situation”.

The party even links the resignation of the chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Santa Maria Hospital, Ana Paula Martins, earlier this week to this process of “hurriedly” creating 31 new Local Health Units (all of which will presumably have a ‘new government crony’ employed to take charge of them).

“It was in disagreement with this measure that the chairwoman of this hospital’s Board of Directors presented her unwillingness to continue, leaving the country’s largest hospital with an uncertain future,” Pinto Luz told his audience.

Says Lusa, the social democrat believes that the “aberrant configuration of the Local Health Units”, which includes central and university hospitals, “makes not only the Local Health Units themselves but also all of Portugal’s leading hospital structures unmanageable“.

To be fair, the entire ‘reform of the State health system’, enacted by the incoming management tier known as the Executive Directorate, has been raising questions since it was announced – and since then, the situation within the State health service has lurched from bad to worse.

Thus, to bring in “last minute political appointments; a new bureaucratic layer in healthcare” at a point in which the government should only be enacting “what is strictly necessary”, is wrong, in the PSD mindset.

“The SNS doesn’t need any more entropy. And the Portuguese deserve to spend this Christmas season secure in the knowledge that, in the event of misfortune, they will have access to the healthcare they deserve.

“This is the time for the Portuguese population to rethink their vote, said Pinto Luz. “Faced with a harsh winter and a resigning government, it would have been expected that the day-to-day management of at least the emergency services would have been ensured with an articulated and capable contingency plan. None of this has happened…”

“The government is not concerned with working every day to ensure adequate conditions for patients and health professionals at this demanding time of the Christmas holidays and the end of the year. No. Instead, the government is working on appointing hundreds of managers to Local Health Units”, he lamented.

Today also national media is running with the fact that President Marcelo is not concerned by the hour-long interview outgoing prime minister António Costa gave to TVI on Monday, in which he lamented the actions of public prosecutors (in effectively bringing down his government) and subsequent decisions of the country’s head of State.

“I didn’t see it”, Marcelo told clamouring journalists – reportedly “refusing to talk about what was said”, pointing out that Mr Costa “will only be in place for another few months”.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã comments that the interview had a relatively low audience (roughly 763,000 viewers) and only a 16% share of the hour’s viewing.

Source material: LUSA/ Correio da Manhã