The University Hospital Center of the Algarve will be reinforced with 18 medical specialists, thanks to the 2019 recruitment drive, which opened in May. Some of these clinicians have already started and others are in the process of drafting contracts.
However, this good news has a negative side. According to data from the Algarve Regional Health Administration (ARS) of the 35 vacancies for medical specialists, only 18 were occupied
Thus, the hospital has received two specialists in General Surgery, two in Internal Medicine, one in Medical Pediatrics, two in Anaesthesiology, one in Cardiology, one in Paediatric Surgery, one in Gynaecology/Obstetrics, two in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, three in Psychiatry, one in Stomatology, one in Ophthalmology, and one in Radiology.
Although the vacancies were not all filled, and they was were not able to hire a single orthopaedic surgeon, one of the specialties which the region is most in need of, Paulo Morgado, president of the ARS, claimed that “overall it is a positive result ‘.
The official explains that “at the Ministry of Health, when we have been conducting these competitions, for some years now, we have had the policy of opening more vacancies for the various specialties than the number of doctors who graduate. We have the notion that there are a number of doctors who, for personal reasons, do not apply for jobs in the year they end up specializing. In an attempt to offer more choice and to recruit these doctors, who are not within the National Health Service, more vacancies are opened than the number of doctors graduating, which means that all vacancies cannot be filled.”
Morgado says that “this is why 350 vacancies remained unfilled nationally. However, we filled 909 vacancies, which is more than 70%. In the other years, we filled around 65%. It’s a case of glass 70% full or glass 30% empty.”
Despite the news that has been made public about the shortage of doctors in the hospitals of the Algarve, the president of ARS guarantees that “in the University Hospital Centre of the Algarve, what we have been seeing since 2015 is that, gradually, we have been getting an increase in number of specialist doctors. We already have 44 more specialists than in 2015. Now, with these 18 more, there will be about 60 more specialist doctors than in 2015. There has been an increase in doctors working in hospital care in the Algarve. And if we train more doctors here, they’re likely to stay here when the specialty is over. This is positive and shows signs of a better future.”
In light of this news, it is worth pointing out that recently the Algarve Regional Health Administration has been in the news for refusing to pay nurses’ overtime wages, improperly accounting for career progression points, and promoting terrible work conditions. This behaviour has caused a dispute between Algarve medical professionals and the ARS, which resulted in a well-represented nurse strike only two weeks ago, raising questions in regards to the efficiency of Morgado’s recruitment plan.