EPSU standing up for public health care with unions in Portugal

Public health meeting, Lisboa, 6 April 2024

(8 April 2024) With a new, conservative, government in Portugal, the unions, social movements and the Bloco Esquerda organised a meeting to discuss the future of the Portuguese national health system. The EPSU General Secretary shared the European unions’ insights, experiences and concerns. The EU economic governance rules are expected to have an impact on public funding leading to threats of commercialisation and privatisation. With representatives of the People’s Health Movement, the network against commercialisation of health and the Portuguese unions we exchanged information about our struggles across Europe.

In separate meetings with unions of doctors, nurses, technicians and therapists we considered European developments of influence on healthcare and the importance of a strong voice for Europe’s health and care workers. The EPSU representative further met with a researcher on longterm care and homecare and the Portuguese coordinator for the long term care action plan in response to the EU Council of Ministers Recommendations on Longterm care.

The Portuguese unions and movements organised an action for public health care 5 April whereas the Belgian unions, EPSU and other organisations are present on World Health Day 7 April in Brussels. The demands are the same

  • Importance of public investment and funding for public health, and preventing new austerity
  • Stopping the commercialisation of care which undermines the public health system and the right to health and care for all.
  • Addressing the role of Big Pharma, its lobby power and how it extracts profits from the ill. Building public research and public companies are alternatives.
  • Ensure safe staffing levels and improve pay and conditions of the workers, mostly women.  EPSU argues for an EU directive on Psycho-social risks that addresses staffing levels. With large staffing shortages in most countries there is a large need for more nurses and other health care professionals.
  • Stressing the Health in all approach as good health and well-being is influenced by many factors such as housing, working conditions, precarious jobs and the environment. Planetary health is crucial to deliver wellbeing for all.

The EPSU General Secretary met with the leadership and prospective MEPs of Bloco Esquerda, member of the European Left party. We discussed the priorities for the new European Parliament and the general situation in Portugal. We share the commitment to stand up for workers’ and trade union rights, inclusive societies, strong public services, social justice and democratic values. Broad cooperation is needed to confront the growing extreme-right.

The meetings took place 5 and 6 April 2024, Lisboa.

For information on the actions on World Health Day 7 April, Brussels

EPSU statement World Health Day

The EU recommendations on long-term care

The concerns of EPSU on the new economic governance rules

EPSU demands for the EP elections.