After Wednesday’s mass action which left hospitals empty and saw 5,000 doctors demonstrating in front of the Ministry of Health, the current two-day doctors’ strike is already being dubbed the biggest in Portugal’s history.
The two-day doctors’ strike which has brought health services in Portugal to a standstill is already being dubbed as the biggest in the country’s history, having surpassed the last major sector strike which took place in 1989.
On Wednesday, 11 July, 3,000 to 5,000 doctors (the numbers are not consensual) covering different ages and regions of the country took to the streets and protested in front of the Ministry of Health. The first day of the strike saw participation levels that surpassed 95%, according to the head of the National Federation of Doctors (FNAM) Mário Jorge Neves.
According to the same source, 98% of the medical staff from Portugal’s biggest hospital, the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, joined the protest action.
It is expected this Thursday, the last day of the strike, that operating theatres in the greater Lisbon hospitals of Santa Maria, São José, Amadora-Sintra and Garcia de Horta will still remain closed. The Independent Union of Doctors (SIM) said that during the two-day strike 4,382 surgeries may be cancelled. They also revealed that regarding cancelled appointments, as patients had been forewarned about the strike, many were able to have them rescheduled.
As for health centres around the country, many will remain closed this Thursday. “In the centre only two health centres with family health units will be open, each with only one doctor”, Jorge Roque da Cunha from SIM told newspaper Diário de Notícias.
On the other hand, private hospitals around the country, like Hospital dos Lusíadas in Lisbon, are overloaded with patients.