Adherence to the doctors’ strike is around 95% in the two main groupings of health centers in Lisbon and the Tagus Valley and at the Beatriz Ângelo Hospital only the emergency operating rooms are working, according to the union.
Speaking to Lusa, the secretary-general of the Independent Doctors’ Union (SIM), Jorge Roque da Cunha, said that “it’s still too early to have overall figures”, but stressed that, given the government’s position in the negotiations that ended on Tuesday, he expects “a very significant turnout”.
“In the health centers of two of Lisbon’s main clusters, adherence is around 95% and, in the operating rooms of the Beatriz Angelo Hospital, only the emergency rooms are working, so adherence is very close to 100%,” explained Roque da Cunha.
The first of two regional strikes called by SIM for the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region takes place today and Thursday. The next one is scheduled for September 27 and 28.
The general secretary of the SIM recalled that at the last negotiating meeting on Tuesday, the government “didn’t go beyond the proposal of a 3.1% pay rise”, stressing that “in the last 10 years there has been a 22% loss in wages”.
“The taxes we pay would oblige the government to make this investment in the NHS, which isn’t happening,” he said, stressing: “Depending on what the government’s response has been to the questions we’ve asked, we expect a very significant response.”
Roque da Cunha recalled that “all the minimum services are guaranteed”, such as inpatient emergencies, outpatient emergencies and hemodialysis.
“We have no doubt that there will be a large and expressive turnout, given the way hospital doctors have been treated, who have less and less incentive to work and a greater and greater workload,” he said.
Regarding the doctors’ discontent, he also said that the SIM had been informed that today, in the emergency team at Hospital Garcia de Orta, “there is only one doctor and two interns”, pointing out that “the directors of this emergency service and of the Fernando da Fonseca, Beatriz Ângelo and Francisco Xavier hospitals are still resigning”.
“The insensitivity of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and the inability of Manuel Pizarro [Health Minister] to convince them is going to create a very serious problem. We are calling for these strikes to be avoided, creating the conditions for doctors to stay in the NHS,” he added.
On Tuesday, the SIM announced a new extension, until October 22, of the doctors’ overtime strike, which began on July 24 and was due to end on September 22.
Asked by Lusa about the possibility of SIM agreeing forms of struggle with the National Federation of Doctors (FNAM) – which on Tuesday announced a new strike for October 17 and 18, Roque da Cunha replied: “We’ve been at joint tables and on Monday we made a proposal for a joint summit with the FNAM. That proposal has already been answered, but no date has been set yet.”