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Cristóvão Norte wants healthcare in the Algarve to be a “national priority”, in midst of exorbitant locum spending

PSD MP Cristóvão Norte has said that “the Algarve must be imposed as a national priority in the National Health Service”, following the announcement that the Algarve University Hospital Centre was the institution registered as having the largest increase in the hiring of locum doctors in 2018.

In all, more than 8.2 million euros were spent on paying for over 238,000 hours of service. The Algarve parliamentarian even says that “the record of costs for locum doctors” had been beaten by last years’ massive amount of spending.

“The services of locum doctors, which should be a rarity, are increasingly becoming the norm. The cost to the state and to us taxpayers per hour is 50 euros, while someone who is a member of the National Health Service, working as a specialist, receives 26 euros per hour”, claimed the MP.

“It’s a brutal injustice and a perverse incentive for professionals to leave the NHS. Worse, everyone understands that this model does not allow for the creation of solid teams, distribution of knowledge among professionals, stability in clinical options and patient follow-up, ultimately, it worsens the quality of services provided”.

Nevertheless, the Social Democrat (PSD) MP, elected by the Faro constituency, says he understands that “there are no powerful mechanisms to fix the doctor situation”, believing that this is not a problem for Algarve hospitals to solve, but one for the Government.

“It is necessary to impose the Algarve as the first national priority in health. This model of hiring doctors happens throughout the country, but has a completely abusive and misfit expression in the Algarve. The President of the Order of Doctors stressed that the annual amount spent at the national level would allow the hiring of 5000 regular doctors for the NHS”, said Norte.

“No more pious statements saying that one wants to reduce the locums, and yet in practice increases them. The use of locum doctors should be reserved for exceptional situations, cases of increased demand for a flu or summer peak, but no more because it destroys teams, it does not favour responsibility, and increases difficulty in making decisions regarding patients, needlessly increasing the follow-up needs,” he added.

Norte believes that the solutions to this “chronic and structural” problem within the Algarve’s healthcare system is the construction of a new hospital, and the creation of effective mechanisms to attract permanent doctors to the region.