UPDATE: Portuguese nurses foresee ‘abandonment of the profession’

Image of a nurse with a patient.

Image of a nurse with a patient. Credit:Alexander Raths/shutterstock.com

UPDATE: Wednesday, November 29 at 5:36 pm

THE National Nurses Union (SNE) in Portugal expressed concern this Wednesday, November 29, about the worsening of salary inequality between their profession and the remaining special careers in the SNS.

After the Ministry of Health reached an interim agreement reached with SIM yesterday, the SNE suggested that this divide will become more pronounced, reported sicnoticias.pt.

In a statement, the union said that the agreement could lead to the exit of nurses to the private sector, or emigration to work abroad.

It also pointed to an abandonment of the profession by ‘aggravating the lack of nurses and specialist nurses’ in the National Health Service (SNS).

What had the union hoped for?

After the national strike that took place on November 20 and the overtime strike, which ended on the 25th, the union said it had hoped that there would be: ‘greater openness from the government to negotiate. But, this is not foreseeable, which worries us a lot’.

Emanuel Boieiro, the president of the SNE board, blamed the prime minister and the minister of Health for the: ‘total unavailability to negotiate and reach an agreement with nurses’.

‘With the urgency of reviewing the career and salary scale of nurses, which has been stagnant since 2015, we await an urgent hearing with the President of the Republic and the meetings requested 10 days ago from the president of the PSD and the candidates for general secretary of the PS’, he added in the statement.


UPDATE: Tuesday, November 28 at 10:12 pm

AN interim agreement with the Independent Doctors’ Union (SIM) for an increase in salaries next year has been reached by the Ministry of Health, the government department announced this Tuesday, November 28.

In a statement circulated to newsrooms, the ministry explained that it had: ‘concluded negotiations with the structures representing doctors, having reached an interim agreement with the Independent Union of Doctors for an increase in salaries in January 2024’.

‘Hospital assistants with a 40-hour schedule will have an increase of 14.6 per cent, graduate assistants of 12.9 per cent and senior graduate assistants of 10.9 per cent. A similar model will be applied to each of the medical careers’, the statement read.

It added that it: ‘welcomes the capacity for dialogue and compromise, in favour of better working conditions and response to users and the commitment of all parties to the negotiations’.

Why was only one union in agreement?

However, according to sicnoticias.pt, Joana Bordalo e Sá, the president of Fnam, commented: ‘Fnam does not accept the agreement, the proposal that was made by the Ministry of Health, since this is a bad agreement for doctors, it is a bad agreement for the National Health Service, this will not allow doctors to be established in the SNS’.

Speaking with the press, Jorge Roque da Cunha, the president of SIM, explained that he believed there were still aspects that they needed to ‘get right’ in this agreement, particularly in terms of performance assessment.

‘The problems of the National Health Service, which have been accumulating for decades, will not be solved with this agreement’, he stressed.

Da Cunha emphasised that today’s understanding aimed to give ‘some tranquility to the Portuguese’ and also improvements to the class.

It was ‘an objective sign of responsibility’ that will ‘oblige the next Government to speak with us again as soon as possible’ he suggested.

Asked by the journalists in Lisbon whether SIM was the only one to sign the agreement, Roque da Cunha explained: ‘In our point of view, maximalist proposals that exceed 30, 40 or 50 per cent didn’t make any sense, but Fnam will answer for itself’.


UPDATE: Sunday, November 26 at 6:05 pm

A meeting scheduled between the unions and the Portuguese government for Monday, November 27, looks like it will be missing the particiption of the Nurses’ Union (SE).

In a statement released this Sunday, the union said that it considered the latest planned negotiations with the Ministry of Health to be a ‘farce’ and a ‘staging’ created by the Ministry so that  it can say it ‘negotiated’ with the nurses, reported cmjornal.pt.

The SE also accused the MoH of ‘mere electioneering’ in wanting to end the negotiation of the diplomas regulating the Family Health Units (USF) and the Integrated Responsibility Centres (CRI), which ‘do not deserve the agreement of any professional class, in particular the nurses’.

‘At a time when the National Health Service (SNS) is going through the darkest moment since its creation’, the MoH should be concentrating on ‘solving the real problems of the SNS’, it concluded.


Saturday, November 25 at 8:23 pm

THE Executive Directorate of the SNS released a new emergency reorganisation plan for Portugal’s health services on Friday, November 24.

As indicated by the Executive Directorate of the National Health Service, between November 26 and December 2, a total of 36 points across the country will operate with limitations in some specialties.

A meeting between the Government and doctors’ unions that took place on Thursday 23, ended without an agreement. A new meeting was scheduled for next Tuesday 28, in order to try to reach a resolution of measures between both parties.

There will be changes to 10 points in the emergency service network. Of the 83 points across the country, 36 (43 per cent) will have constraints in some specialties and 47 (57 per cent) will be fully operational.

Which services are expected to be affected most?

Orthopedics, gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics will be the departments most affected by these latest measures.

In the North Region, 11 emergencies will be affected in some specialties from its 29 emergency points. Six of the 17 points in the Central regions will be limited and in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region 13 of the 19 emergencies will be operating restricted in some specialties.

Three of the 12 Alentejo Region points will be limited, while in the Algarve, two of the six emergency rooms will be restricted.

In the document, the DE-SNS once again reminded that emergency services must give priority to the reception, admission and screening of patients transported in ambulances. It referenced INEM’s Urgent Patient Guidance Centres (CODU), to ‘quickly release the means to respond to new occurrences’.

However, the entity admitted that given the constraints of the current situation, there may be increased constraints on access to emergency services, with a main impact on less serious cases, reported sicnoticias.pt.

How will these shortages be handled?

DE-SNS also stated that primary health care must be reorganised to ensure periods of unscheduled care for patients with acute pathology, particularly those sent by the SNS24.

As for hospital care, responses should be reinforced for acute cases of chronically ill patients, already being followed up in the respective hospital units, whether in an unscheduled consultation, day hospital, or home hospitalisation it added.

In the case of patients with an acute illness, they should call the SNS24 Line in advance (808 242 424). Patients in urgent or emergency situations should contact 112, which will forward the call to INEM, the aforementioned news outlet reported the document as stating.

Friday’s emergency reorganisation plan designed by DE-SNS – which is reviewed weekly – was the third one so far.

The Executive Management admitted that the first reorganisation of the emergency response on November 11 arose following the unavailability expressed by ‘a relevant number of doctors’ to carry out overtime work.

According to them, more than 2,500 doctors reportedly presented excuses for not working overtime beyond the 150 hours per year to which they are obliged.

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Written by

Chris King

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. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com