The complaint is made in an open letter from this union, created in early 2020, addressed to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“Right now, there are more than 1,800 nurses with contracts for a certain time to face the covid-19 pandemic who have not seen, or will see, their contracts renewed. This lack of recognition and appreciation of our work promotes the exodus, and in the middle of the pandemic, around 1,300 nurses emigrated”, stressed SITEU.

According to the union, these professionals in a precarious situation are ensuring the daily needs of the National Health Service (SNS), which has a ratio of nurses below the average of OECD countries (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

“In Portugal, the ratio of nurses / inhabitants in the SNS is 6.9 / 1,000 inhabitants, compared to OECD countries, which is 9.3 / 1,000”, advanced SITEU in the open letter, which intended to express the “deep concern, indignation and dissatisfaction with Portuguese policies for the NHS”.

The union also warned that there is a “brutal disinvestment by the Portuguese Government in public health institutions”, pointing to the examples of the lack of maintenance of buildings, the non-renewal of equipment for patient care and labour policies.

“We have seen, in the last 15 years, a brutal increase in private health institutions that survive at the expense of public funding. Health has become a business of millions that enriches this business fabric and, consequently, private economic groups”, said SITEU.

In terms of wages, the union structure considered that, despite the negotiation of an increase provided for in the State Budget of 2018, in May 2021 the “most SNS institutions did not communicate the points individually to each professional and did not proceed with the salary update of more than about 50 percent of nurses”.

This means that, according to the union, nurses with 22 years of career are in the first remunerative position in equal circumstances as a newly graduated colleague.