According to Marta Temido told deputies of the parliamentary committee on Health, 409 doctors retired in 2019, last year there were 653 and up to May this year 231.

"It is a circumstance that is the result of what are the rights of workers, for the course of their professional practice," said the minister, stressing that the Government has been working to reverse the situation, trying to open more vacancies and "ensuring that no doctor who wants to be hired is left unhired."

In this regard, she also said that, taking advantage of the mechanism that allows for the hiring of retired doctors, 346 more retired doctors are currently working with the National Health Service.

About the data of users without family doctors, the minister underlined the length of the training cycle of these health professionals and stressed: "medical demography reflects the demography of society in general".

"It is no surprise this volume of retirements, as it was known that it would flow into the years we are living through," she said.

To counter the departure of doctors, the minister pointed to the focus on opening up more specialised jobs and jobs for general and family medicine: "It's a political choice, it's not by chance.

"Although we know that we will not, with a high probability, retain all the doctors [for the vacancies in the tender that the Government authorised to open at the beginning of the month], as the retention rate in this area is 86 percent, if we apply a similar rate to the 459 jobs opened, we will be left with 395 [general and family medicine] doctors," she said.

She added: "If we attribute an average list of users of 1,650 to each one, we would recover [and manage to have] 650,000 more Portuguese with family doctors".

In this regard, the minister stressed that in the first five months of the year there were 75,000 more people registered with the National Health Service.

She also said that the cost of staff costs in the first five months of the year had risen by 190 million Euros, of which 60 million represented costs with salaries.