António Costa spoke of the Government's "commitment" to strengthen the National Health Service's (NHS) response capacity, promising to tackle its "chronic under-funding"
In his Christmas message, the Prime Minister spoke of the Government’s “commitment” to strengthen the National Health Service’s (NHS) response capacity, promising to tackle its “chronic under-funding” and phase out user fees.
Contrary to the usual, the message was not recorded at the Prime Minister’s official residence, but rather at the Family Health Unit (USF) of Areeiro, in Lisbon, which came into operation on the 16th.
The Prime Minister argued that “the NHS is one of the greatest achievements of democracy, allowing, over the last 40 years, to provide assistance to all those who need it, especially in moments of fragility, and regardless of their economic condition, social status or place of residence”.
After having addressed “a word of solidarity” to all those who are facing the disease and expressing his “profound recognition to all professionals who give their best on a daily basis” to ensure health care for the general population, António Costa identified primary health care as “the basis of the NHS and the best way to achieve the goal of universal health coverage”.
“As you know, over the last four years we have recovered the budget allocation of the NHS, admitted a further 15 thousand professionals, and increased the number of consultations and surgical operations performed. But we know that this is not enough and that we have a duty to do more and better”.
“The State Budget proposal for 2020 includes the largest ever increase in the health budget and gives greater autonomy to hospitals to ensure greater efficiency and responsibility in their day-to-day management. The programme to improve the response of the NHS also provides for a series of investments in health infrastructure and equipment, authorises the hiring of an additional 8,400 health professionals – doctors, nurses and other professionals – as well as the payment of incentives to reduce waiting lists through more surgeries and more consultations, including on Saturdays”.
In 2020 António Costa said that his executive will “double the pace of investment in continued care, opening a thousand new beds, 200 of which in mental health”.
“And from 2020, we will begin to phase out user fees for primary health care and treatment prescribed by the NHS”.
In his message, the Prime Minister said he was aware that the country “faces many other challenges”, such as “the fight against climate change, poverty, access to housing, improving employment, education and strengthening economic growth”.