Portugal’s State health service doctors to receive ‘average salary increases’ of 30%

Proposals “to be presented tomorrow, or during week”

Government ministers are preparing to present measures that will allow an average increase in SNS State health service doctors’ salaries of around 30%, writes tabloid Correio da Manhã today.

The move comes as FNAM, the national federation of doctors, has lost patience with what it calls government inaction, and declared strike dates for July. SIM – the  independent syndicate of doctors – is also threatening to take its members out on strike.

In other words, this is the 11th hour for the government to broker a deal, or at least a truce.

The plan reportedly involves doctors agreeing to work full time for the SNS (ie not splitting their time between State and private services); the speeding up of the opening of vacancies and an increase in services to patients.

CM says “essentially, the government means to present a generous proposal that values doctors’ remuneration”.

The details will either be presented tomorrow afternoon, when the ministry of health is due to meet with SIM, “or during the week” when health minister Manuel Pizarro is due to be heard by the parliamentary health commission.

“During the last few days, the health and finance ministries have been studying various solutions for measures destined to improve doctors’ earnings, bearing in mind their impact will need to be supportable on a budgetary level”, says the paper.

Sources have confirmed that “the study of a proposal that will allow an average increase of around 30% in gross salaries” is on the table.

This kind of increase will see doctors “recover the spending power they have lost over the last 10 years”, says CM.

As to the nitty gritty, this seems to involve:

  • upgrading ‘Family Health Units’ (USFs) so that they increase the services available to patients; 
  • paying doctors a special supplement if they adhere to work full time for the SNS; 
  • speeding up the opening and filling of vacancies; 
  • unblocking career progressions – and creating ‘Centres of Integrated Responsibility’ in hospitals, where doctors will be paid on compliance of ‘determined objectives’.

Much more will emerge when these measures are officially presented – but CM reveals that work schedules will be set at 35-hours per week, with no more than 12 of those hours in casualty wards (‘urgências). Right now, doctors are expected to work 18 hours per week in casualty.

There will also be a special tier for doctors working exclusively for the SNS, with weekly schedules of 35 hours and 42 hours, says the paper.

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Portugal Resident