The Minister of Health today expressed “great expectation” that it will be possible to bring positions closer together in the negotiations between the unions and the government, accusing the PSD of wanting to solve the shortage of family doctors with “a kind of ‘ChatGPT'”.
“I very much hope that it will be possible to bring the positions close enough together so that we can continue with the support and active participation of the professionals,” said Manuel Pizarro, at the Socialist Academy, which ends on Sunday in Évora.
In a panel entitled “SNS: what future?”, in which former Health Minister Ana Jorge also took part, Pizarro explained that what is at stake is a proposal that “on the one hand, in primary health care, has the generalization of Family Health Units (USF) model B as an essential element, and in hospitals the generalization of full time work”, with an associated “significant increase” in remuneration.
After explaining some of the measures that the government has taken in the area of health, Pizarro reserved the final part of his speech to criticize the right, especially the PSD.
“I was carefully reading the PSD’s proposals for solving the problems of the SNS and I more or less realized that Luís Montenegro’s solution for people who don’t have a family health team was a kind of ChatGPT [generative artificial intelligence model]: instead of a doctor, you call,” he said.
Pizarro was referring to one of the proposals presented in July by the PSD, considered by the Social Democrats to be structural in order to “profoundly transform the SNS into a true National Health System” and which included a “digital family doctor” for three million Portuguese, among others.
The Health Minister also responded to criticism that the PS has an “ideological bias” when it comes to the sector.
“I have to say that I do have an ideological prejudice about the SNS, and they’re right. It’s the prejudice of someone who wants to ensure that all Portuguese people, whatever their economic condition and wherever they live, have access to sophisticated healthcare,” he said.
Pizarro stressed that “however much the right-wing political leaders want to erase themselves from this picture, it’s worth remembering that when the SNS law was approved in the Portuguese Parliament, the PSD and CDS voted against it”.
“And if, when they refer to ideological prejudice, they want to accuse us of not collaborating with other sectors, the private sector or the social sector, in a complementary way when appropriate, to develop the NHS, I don’t understand what they’re talking about either,” he continued.
In Pizarro’s opinion, “it’s a case of asking” the opposition leaders, especially the PSD, how many hospitals “under a public-private partnership have been put out to tender”, because “all the ones that have been put out to tender and signed the contracts were PS governments”.
“When it comes to ensuring that the SNS develops in health and cooperates when appropriate, in a complementary way with the private sector or the solidarity sector, the PSD talks, talks, talks but has never done anything,” he accused.
In her speech, former Health Minister Ana Jorge considered it important for young people to be aware that there is the possibility of working in networks and with the social and private sectors, but, she stressed, “it is not indifferent who provides health care”.
“We mustn’t be fooled,” he warned.
On Friday, Manuel Pizarro expressed his surprise at not having been able to reach an agreement with the doctors’ unions, saying that he hoped there would be “an opportunity for dialogue” and to “bring positions closer together”.
These negotiations began in 2022, but there has been no consensus.
A new extraordinary negotiating meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday.