Algarve’s hospitals and health centres welcome 136 training doctors

SNS health service doctors begin two day strike

Doctors federation outraged by ministry’s ‘backward step’

Portugal’s SNS health service doctors have started their two day strike.

Even though syndicates and the government are still in negotiations, the situation – outlined last week – is that the Federation of Doctors does not feel there is the good faith to ‘sit back’ and let matters take their course.

As chairwoman of FNAM’s executive committee Joana Bordalo e Sá has explained, in the middle of negotiations the ministry has brought back to the table an issue that doctors had thought was toast: the increasing of age limits for doctors to work nights and in emergency services.

It has been described as an “unacceptable backwards step”, hence the decision to maintain this week’s strike action.

SIM, the independent syndicate of doctors, is not backing the strike, as it believes there is no justification for it while negotiations are underway.

The negotiating protocol provides for talks to take place until June, but FNAM certainly feels that the government proposals up till now are “indecent” and to a large extent deceitful.

As Joana Bordalo e Sá said last week, health minister Manuel Pizarro “knows exactly what has to be done…”

The doctor’s demands centre on what they claim are “urgent structural measures” required to attract and retain doctors within the public health service, and better working conditions/ salaries.

Among issues being fought over are the right to 25 working days holiday per year, plus five extra days (to be taken out of season), as well as a reduction in normal working hours in A&E from 18 to 12.

To date, health minister Manuel Pizarro has admitted that the doctors’ strike “worries” him, but insists the government will continue to negotiate “in good faith” and “calmly”.

As to the effects of the next two days, these will undoubtedly involve more delays within the badly-heaving health service, and more cancellations of ‘non-urgent appointments’/ surgeries (non-urgent being a label attached to prior arrangements for which many patients will have been waiting anxiously, and for some time).

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