“The emergencies of the National Health Service [SNS]between doctors’ working hours, doctors’ overtime and provision of services, consume a little more 18 million hours of work. And this should deserve concern in terms of reorganization of services”, began by stating the Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, in a hearing at the Health Commission that took place on October 30, in Parliament.
“This means that we must import to other regions of the country, namely to the Lisbon Metropolitan Area [AML], what is done in Porto? Obviously not, because AML is much larger, has a much larger population and Answers cannot be copiedthey must be carefully studied with the involvement of professionals, with the involvement of mayors and installed on the ground when we are sure that they will represent safety for people and predictability in operation”, he continued.
“But we have to carry out this profound reform of emergency services, we really do because the reality of recent days – regardless of the union context and the difficulties in this negotiation – shows that we We cannot continue to live in a system that is based on the multiplication of overtime of professionals, in general, and doctors, in particular”, he argued. “And, therefore, we have to create a model in which the use of emergency services is reserved for people who actually need it”.
Going back to October 2nd, however, the Minister of Health considered that these overtime hours were “indispensable” for the functioning of the SNS. On the sidelines of the presentation of the “4 Health Mobilizing Agendas”, in Matosinhos, Pizarro declared:
“Over the past 44 years, it was only possible for the emergency services to work because the doctors agreed to work a very high number of overtime hours – which I recognize are very painful from the point of view of their personal life, but which are indispensable.”
Another example, about a week later, on October 10th. Faced with the increase in excuses for overtime, Pizarro once again stated that the “full functioning” of emergency services depends on the availability of doctors to work overtime.
“The law stipulates a maximum value above which we cannot require doctors to work more overtime. Emergency services have always been ensured with the availability of doctors to work a very high number of overtime and we don’t have the conditions to ensure that this is no longer necessary in the short term”, he highlighted.
Questioned by Polígrafo about this apparent change of opinion, the Health Minister’s office claimed that “no contradiction can be seen between the two statements. The use of overtime has been essential to the functioning of the SNS since its creation”.
He also referred to the “diploma that still regulates the remuneration of professionals who work overtime in healthcare (Decree-Law no. 62/79 of 30 March)”.