Shortage-nurses

‘Just clapping doesn’t solve anything’

Despite the fact that Catarina Martins – the leader of the Left Bloc (BE) – regards the National Health Service (SNS) ‘a pearl of democracy’ and its workers ‘heroes and heroines’, working conditions are poor and staff shortages in public health threatening.

After having reviewed the shortage of doctors in the SNS, let’s now take a look at the field of nursing.

When Portugal froze nurses’ career progression and salaries during the financial crisis some ten years ago, thousands went abroad in seek of greener pastures. There are currently 20.000 Portuguese nurses working elsewhere – mainly in the UK, France, Spain, and Germany – where salaries are easily 3 times higher.

In Portugal, the ratio of nurses/inhabitants is low (6.9/1000), compared to EU countries (9.3/1000). The Independent Union of Nurses recently highlighted the lack of appreciation of the nurses by the Government, leading to another 1300 professionals leaving the country during the Covid19 pandemic.

According to the Nurses Association (OE), there are approximately 45.500 nurses working in the SNS.
‘A general nurse earns 1200 euros per month at the start of her career and will only be evaluated for upgrading every ten years’, says Guadalupe Simões, head of the Portuguese Nursing Syndicate. ‘After tax, some take home as little as 980 euros, just 315 above the minimum wage. Many have two jobs to make ends meet. Even those who have worked a lifetime can only hope to reach a salary of 1800 euros at the end of 40 years’.

The OE foresees further mass emigrations of nurses after an exhausting and unrewarded fight against the pandemic. ‘The Government must adopt policies to keep nurses in the country and that is impossible with low wages’, the outspoken president of the Association – Ana Rita Cavaco – declared. To back their demands a general strike will be called on November 3rd and 4th.

In order to recover the level of primary care damaged by the epidemic and in view of the EU Recovery Plan – aiming to rebuild a more resilient post-Covid19 Europe – the OE proposes the assignment of a family nurse to each family/patient.

‘There are currently 3000 nurses involved in the coronavirus vaccination campaign, which could be considered for this purpose. Family nurses can play a decisive role in the recovery and consolidation of people with chronic illnesses and dependents at home, who are now in a situation of greater vulnerability.’


Enjoy your weekend      Bom fim de semana      (pic Público/Sapo)








Elections

‘Democracy has no owner’ (Carlos Moedas, new mayor of Lisbon)

The ruling center-left Socialist Party (PS) of prime minister António Costa won the local elections with 34% of the votes. Although less convincing than 4 years ago, when the SP was able to take the lead in 160 of the 308 municipalities. This time the party lost 11 councils.

The center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) gained ground with 24% of the votes. After its worse result ever in 2017 – winning only 98 councils – it recovered 16 municipalities, giving the party the chance to nominate the mayor.

The completely unexpected loss of the Socialists in Lisbon against Novos Tempos (‘New Times’) – a coalition of right-wing parties, including the PSD – meant a sensitive blow to the PS, who had been in power there for 14 consecutive years.

The newly elected mayor in the capital – Carlos Moedas – however, will face a red wall of councillors. The rightist PSD coalition has seven councillors, exactly the same amount as the leftist PS. But there are three more councillors who are likely to team up with the PS. Two communists and one from the Left Bloc, a party with Marxist roots and 19 deputies in Parliament but no mayors at the local level.

The Centre Democratic and Social Popular Party (CDS-PP) – a conservative Christian anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia party – won, in alliance with the PSD, in only 5 councils. One less than four years ago.

The biggest loser was the one-hundred-year-old Communist Party (PCP) – one of the strongest communist parties in Western Europe – who got just over 8% of the votes, losing 5 of their 19 councils. Their worst result since 1976, when Portugal introduced democracy after the Carnation Revolution.


The far-right, xenophobic and nationalist party Chega (‘Enough’) – with one seat in Parliament and taking part in the local elections for the first time – achieved modest success with 4% of the votes, not enough though to conquer a council.

Only 28 councils (9%) were won by a woman, 4 less than in 2017. The Socialists elected most women for mayor – 18 out of 28 – followed by the Social Democrats with 7 women and the Communists with 3 women in the leadership.

The turnout was traditionally poor.
Of the nine million voters, who were able to take part in this election, just over 50% showed up.

Enjoy your week                   Approveite sua semana      (pic Sapo/Ptres)