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Portuguese medical professionals are demanding working conditions that improve the quality of patient care.
Portugal's Independent Physicians Union (SIM), the National Federation of Physicians (FNAM) and the Democratic Union of Nurses (Sindepor) began Tuesday a four-day nationwide strike in the defense of the National Health Service (SNS).
"Doctors are striking as a form of open protest against the degradation of work, welfare state and health services, which has been brought about by years of an uncontrolled and fraudulent expenditure carried out by successive governments and legislatures," the SIM said.
Among other claims, physicians request that the state expand the number of family doctors, decrease the number of patients per doctor, extend the time granted for consultations, reduce the emergencies shifts from 18 to 12 hours and implement a new salary scale.
For their part, nurses are asking Portuguese authorities that retirement age be set at 57 or after a total of 35 years of service .
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They also ask for compensation for occupational risks and diseases, compensations for the physical exhaustion caused by work shifts and more explicit definitions of the conditions of professional practice for specialized nurses and nursing managers.
Besides, the healthcare professionals demand the full and correct implementation of legislation related to their sector, including the payment of the salary supplements to all registered nurses, and the suppression of all forms of labor discrimination.
During their nationwide strike, the Portuguese doctors announced they will continue to attend emergencies, intensive care, chemotherapy and surgeries, if necessary.