Algarve Socialist Party assures healthcare is “top priority in the next legislature”, amidst nurse strike
“Health issues are a top priority for the Algarve socialists in the next legislature.” These are the words of Jamila Madeira, Socialist Party candidate for the Algarve, at the end of a series of meetings, this Wednesday, August 21, in São Brás de Alportel and Faro.
In the morning, candidates for the Socialist Party, led by Jamila Madeira, visited the Medicine and Rehabilitation Centre in São Brás de Alportel and met with the boards of the Algarve University Hospital Centre and the Algarve Health Council Administration.
The objective was to assess “the evolution of the provision of services to the population during this legislation, listening to the concerns of its leaders and professionals and reaffirming the Socialist Party’s prioritization of health issues in the region and the country, enshrined in the Electoral Program and the new Health Foundation Law”, already communicated by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
However, this news comes as the nurses’ strike this Thursday, August 22nd, in health centres across the Algarve, and there are already location in Faro, Albufeira, Tavira, Lagos and Vila do Bispo with 100% participation.
At 11:00 am, according to union data, there was 100% adherence at the Albufeira and Faro Family Health Units, the Lagos Personalized Health Care Unit, the Vila do Bispo and Alcoutim Health Centers, as well as at Tavira’s palliative care unit.
At the Boliqueime and Almancil Health Centers, adherence was 67%, while in Monchique it was 50%, São Brás (71%), and Silves (60%).
For Nuno Manjua, regional coordinator of the Portuguese Nurses’ Union (SEP), the numbers are so far “matching expectations”.
“We hope that throughout the day the strike will increase. It is also expected that, in these two days, there will be further limitations in nursing care, home care, treatments, consultations and vaccinations”, he said.
The Union focuses most of its anger at the Algarve Regional Health Administration (ARS), blaming it “for any and all constraints”.
“The ARS could have prevented this strike and did not. We have tried start a dialogue several times. They received us, of course, but they did not even consider the legal opinions we sent to support what our claims are and provide evidence. They haven’t shifted a millimetre,” accused Nuno Manjua.
Some of the demands of the SEP include the immediate hiring of 150 nurses, the correct accounting of career progression points, the overdue payment of over 1000 hours and over € 10,000 of overtime work, as well as as the thawing of career progression through the currently frozen stalemate system.
“In January 2018, the Government improved career progression, and the ARS is acting against this, harming nurses. Since 2005, or in some cases since 2002, there are nurses who do not have even a one-cent increase in their salary. It is time for change”, expressed the regional coordinator.
On the part of the Regional Health Administration, in a statement, the ARS Board of Directors released a “message of peace” to all nurses.
“The Board of Directors is available, as always, to continue to the dialogue with the union and reach an understanding of the demands of the SEP, aiming to find the best solutions, without harming the nurses of the Algarve in relation to other regions”, they claimed.
The ARS goes further, claiming that “the evolution of the number of nurses at the National Health Service in the Algarve region has been steadily increasing over the past four years in primary health care (394 in 2015 to 443 in June 2019 ), and a call for more nurses is still being finalized “.
Faced with this issue, the regional SEP coordinator acknowledged that ARS has been “recruiting nurses”, but not enough.
“There is still a shortage of professionals, this region has a chronic shortage. The number of nurses recruited has not been sufficient for what the needs are. The last recruitment, that occurred recently, was for 10 nurses, who already had a connection with the civil service. One of the demands we have been making is to open an external recruitment drive so that nurses who are unemployed can work in the Algarve without being removed from other institutions,” he said.
The nurses’ strike in health centres in the region lasts until this Friday, the 23rd. Tomorrow a demonstration is scheduled at the door of the ARS, in Faro, at 11 am.