Government won’t have a “state of grace” – doctors’ union

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The Independent Doctors’ Union today expressed its “total willingness” to talk to the new government, but warned that there will be no “state of grace” due to the seriousness of the problems in the SNS and the difficulty of access to health care.

“The situation and the seriousness of the problems that exist, the difficulty the Portuguese have in accessing family doctors, health care, surgeries, consultations, the difficulty in setting up emergency rooms, which continues throughout the country, will require rapid emergency intervention in a consistent manner,” the union’s general secretary told Lusa.

Jorge Roque da Cunha also assured that the Independent Doctors’ Union (SIM) will request a meeting with the Ministry of Health on the day the President of the Republic swears in the new government, in order to resume negotiations.

“We will request [the resumption of negotiations] as a matter of urgency, of course, understanding that there are many matters that need work, in short, the government program, the composition of the cabinets, but the request is made immediately,” he stressed.

The Democratic Alliance (AD), led by Luís Montenegro, won the legislative elections on Sunday, with 29.49% of the votes and 79 deputies, ahead of the PS, led by Pedro Nuno Santos, with 28.66% and 77 elected, and Chega, led by André Ventura, with 18.06% and 48 mandates, according to the provisional results, with four mandates still to be allocated for emigration.

Asked what he expects from these results, which give a minority government, for the doctors’ demands, Roque da Cunha said “that it is clear that any situation of instability is not good for the country”.

“It’s not good for our personal lives, it’s not good for our professional lives, but the truth is that the Portuguese chose and the results are what they are,” he said.

Roque da Cunha insisted on SIM’s “total availability” to maintain a dialog with the political parties in Parliament, with whom he has already met and to whom he stressed “the need for investment in the National Health Service”.

That’s why he said he hoped that “the SNS will be one of those issues that, within the parliamentary framework, will merit the broad consensus of MPs”.

The union leader stressed that all the parties have committed to the SIM that the interim increase it achieved at the end of the year can be supplemented in 2024 in order to attract doctors to the NHS.

“It’s not possible for us to repeatedly find that there are so many departures, so many difficulties in hiring doctors and the hiring of retired doctors is a patch. We’ve been saying exactly that for 12 years. It’s a provisional measure, but it’s provisionally definitive,” he criticized.

Roque da Cunha expressed SIM’s willingness to help find solutions, in a context that “won’t be easy, as it hasn’t been easy”, and recalled “the privilege” of SIM having “signed 36 agreements with all governments of all political colors, with the Santa Casa de misericórdia, with the Public Private Partnerships”.

“Therefore, we hope that what was expressed in the election campaign, which was, in fact, one of the main themes of the election campaign, will be implemented in a rigorous, serious way, because the situation that the Portuguese are experiencing today in terms of access to health care is extremely serious,” Roque da Cunha stressed.

Among the SIM’s demands are the updating of the salary scale, with the replacement of the 30% loss of purchasing power since 2011, and the adoption of a 35-hour working week for doctors, including 12 hours of emergency service work.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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