Portugal’s new health minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes has announced he will be re-evaluating the decision to close 11 casualty departments up and down the country.
He is not promising anything, he stresses, but the human impact of the cost-cutting measures has to be studied.
“I am not saying that I will revoke or otherwise,” he warned journalists at the closure of the 18th national congress of medicine, in Porto. “But I can admit that the general interest will be studied and re-evaluated in terms of what are also the interests of the country.”
Fernandes arrived at his post at the health ministry days after the caretaker centre-right government had published a dispatch in State newspaper Diário da República signalling the closure of casualty departments from north to south, as a form of health service ‘reorganisation’.
Regional president of the doctors association Miguel Guimarães told the Porto conference a few days before that the troika imposed a cut of €550 million on Portugal’s health service under the terms of the country’s €79 billion bailout, but former health minister Paulo Macedo “wanted to go further and cut €1.5 billion”.
Taking up from where Macedo left off, Campos Fernandes says his chief concern is ensuring that Portuguese people have a “timely response to the acute necessity to find healthcare”.