Government will open more than 900 vacancies for family doctors

400 vacancies go to Lisbon and Tagus Valley

The Government will open more than 900 vacancies for family doctors and is developing an incentive model for those who exceed the 150 hours required by law in emergencies, the Minister of Health announced today.

Ana Paula Martins said at the press conference to present the Emergency and Transformation Plan in Health that a decree-law was generally approved that opens more than 900 vacancies for family doctors across the country, adding that only in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo there are 400 vacancies.

The minister said that it is necessary to listen to the unions representing doctors on this matter, but highlighted the importance of attracting these professionals to model B health centers, to join the teams.

The 900 vacancies are almost 40% above the vacancies for new specialists, he said, explaining that the fact that there are “so many vacancies this year” is due to them being distributed across the country.

«We wanted to give all general and family medicine doctors the possibility of choosing exactly the areas where they want to settle to carry out their life project», he said, adding that these vacancies can also attract some doctors who, for various reasons , left the SNS and that «they can now see attraction in these new health centers, model B, which have very different remuneration conditions».

Despite this number of vacancies, the minister considered that there are still “not enough”, and for this reason there is a pool of contracted doctors that already has “plenty available”, in addition to agreements established with the social sector.

Asked whether the fact that many doctors have already exceeded the limit of 150 overtime hours could hinder the implementation of the plan, the minister said that the Government is creating an incentive system that "has some similarities with some systems" that already existed, namely an additional payment after a certain volume of hours.

"We cannot force people to work more hours than they feel capable of, but if they have the desire and if they have the possibility" "other innovative ways" of being able to pay them are being studied, he said, announcing that in the coming weeks they will have a solution to present to doctors and nurses, who are «a different situation, but who are also part of the teams».

Regarding emergencies, the minister said that the priority is to be able to “treat true emergencies”, adding that there are users who can be treated in structures that are “faster, less complex response centers, with complementary means of diagnosis and which can, in fact, avoiding long waiting times in hospital emergency rooms, especially in end-of-line and more complex hospitals».

In this sense, the Government will create clinical care centers to respond to situations that are not considered urgent, but that need to be attended to at times when health centers are no longer available because doctors have completed their working hours.

In addition, the next day consultation will be implemented, which already exists, but which the Government, through local health units, wants to intensify at the level of primary health care.

Recalling that there are more than 1,7 million users without a family doctor, the minister reiterated that the objective is for all residents in Portugal to have this access, but highlighted that “it is a measure for the entire legislature”.

«This is the most difficult measure of all the measures we have here and we all know how difficult it is to actually attract more and more young doctors», he said.