By Chris King • 28 August 2023 • 16:26
Image of doctor taking a patient's blood pressure.
Credit: Monkey Business Images/shutterstock.com
A nationwide strike was called in Portugal this Monday, August 28, by the National Federation of Doctors (FNAM).
The industrial action is scheduled for November 14 and 15, with the union demanding fair wages and decent working conditions for all doctors in the National Health Service (SNS).
In an official statement, the federation warned: ‘We reached the end of August, 28 days after the FNAM submitted its counter-proposal to the Ministry of Health regarding salary scales, the new dedication regime and the integration of medical internship into the career, and we still have not received a response’.
The FNAM announced that a national march will take place between 5 September and 15 November. A demonstration will also be organised for 3 pm at the Ministry of Health on November 14.
As the FNAM explained, ‘The objective is to listen to doctors and support them to continue to deliver declarations of unavailability to carry out additional work beyond the mandatory 150 hours per year’.
This action will take place between 8 am and 10 am, starting in Porto. It will subsequently pass through Viana do Castelo, Braga, Bragança, Chaves, Penafiel, Aveiro, Coimbra, Leiria, Guarda, Viseu, Setúbal, Évora and Faro.
Taking place on the fringes of the 2nd World Health Organisation (WHO) Conference on ‘The Future of Health Systems in the Digital Age’, the march will end on the days of the national strike in Lisbon.
“Doctors and the SNS have no more time to waste. The population in Portugal deserves universal, accessible, efficient and quality health, and cannot remain hostage to the incompetence of the Ministry of Health and the Government”, he says.
A date has not yet been set but the FNAM is also planning to send a delegation to Brussels to deliver a manifesto in defence of public health to Portuguese deputies in the European Parliament and to the European Commissioner for Health.
These latest protest actions by the FNAM join others by the Independent Doctors Union (SIM). It currently has a series of strikes in progress, in various modalities and regions, which will last until September.
They include a strike by internal doctors that occurred last week, industrial action against overtime for family doctors, which lasts until September 22, and regional strikes in Alentejo, the Algarve and the Azores on August 30 and 31.
On August 10, the doctors’ unions and the Government concluded a fifth extraordinary negotiation meeting without reaching an agreement on the revision of the salary grid. That was the main item in the list of demands presented to the negotiating table, which began back in 2022.
The FNAM has asked for external and independent mediation in the negotiations, given its impasse. It wants increases in salary that compensate for the loss of purchasing power of doctors in the last decade, along with a weekly work schedule of 35 hours.
Also demanded are the reinstatement of 12-hour emergency services, the increased exclusive dedication regime, and the integration of internal doctors into the first career grade.
The union rejected maintaining the 40-hour working week and increasing the overtime limit from the current 150 to 300 per year.
It also described the proposed increase in basic salary of between 0.4 and 1.6 per cent, ‘derisory’, while also rejecting the continuation of 18-hour emergency services and the rules laid down for the new regime of full dedication to the NHS in hospitals.
A new negotiating meeting between the unions and the government has been scheduled for September 11, as reported by sicnoticias.pt.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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