A strike by Portuguese doctors against government austerity measures entered its second day on Wednesday, forcing thousands of patients to wait for operations and consultations.
Emergency rooms, intensive care units and radiation therapy services ran a skeleton staff as strike organisers, the National Federation of Doctors (FNAM), estimated 90 percent of the 26,000 public sector doctors had stayed away.
The figure was contested by the health ministry, but it did not offer its own numbers.
Numerous patients showed up in hospitals and health clinics despite the strike, hoping to be seen by a doctor.
The Portuguese health sector — which has been hit by cutbacks since the country entered an international bailout in 2011 — is being ordered to make a further 300 million euros ($400 million) of savings this year.
Medical staff are critical of deteriorating working conditions in public hospitals, job losses, pay cuts, and the longer working hours that have come as the sector has had to make savings.
In an effort to appease medical workers’ anger, Health Minister Paulo Macedo announced Tuesday an advance grant of 300 million euros to public hospitals, hailed as a “first victory” by FNAM president Maria Merlinde Madureira.