Doctors from outside the EU are waiting years to get their qualifications recognised by Portugal’s University Medical Schools, an essential step before they can join the Ordem de Médicos and practice in Portugal.
The Ordem dos Médicos is keen to have new members who, it says, can start to fill the yawning gaps in the National Health Service, particularly in the Algarve, the islands and inland regions.
One Portuguese-Venezuelan doctor, interviewed by Público, has been a doctor for 20 years, has been a specialist in gynecology and obstetrics for 15 years and has been waiting almost three years to be able to practice as a specialist in Portugal.
The delay is due to Portugal’s bureaucracy that involves the formal recognition of all her academic and professional competences – her master’s and doctorate studies at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas and the almost two decades of work in the main Venezuelan maternity hospital.
There are many Venezuelan Doctors queuing up to work in Portugal. The Association of Luso-Venezuelan Physicians estimates that of its 250 members, about 120 have tried to emigrate to Portugal after the socio-economic and political crisis made them decide to leave Venezuela.
Doctors trained in Venezuelan universities, with 15, 20, 30 years of experience, arrive in Portugal and face two to three years waiting until their medical qualifications and credentials are recognised.
The situation is the same for any doctor trained outside the European Union. The rules of entry are being ‘reviewed by the Council of Portuguese Medical Schools. So far this year, medical schools have refused even to look at applications from non-EU doctors, the queues are growing and many doctors go elsewhere, such as Spain where they wait an average of three months before being able to continue their careers.
Even when highly trained specialists do get admitted to Portugal, they then spend years waiting to have their additional qualifications and specialities recognised, meaning they are limited to working at GP level, without career progression.
One Venezuelan doctor commented, “You cannot ask a doctor with specialised training, a postgraduate and with a doctorate, to act as a general practitioner. In no country in the world does this happen.”
Portugal’s health service is short of at least 4,000 doctors before it achieves an internationally recognised ratio.
The Ordem de Médicos wants to attract immigrant doctors and see them accredited swiftly and efficiently but the government and the university medical schools clearly do not or this would already be happening.
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