Debts from SNS (National Health Service) hospitals skyrocketed to 903 million -
Overdue payments were not as high since November 2013. In two months, the increase was almost €100 million.
The arrears of the hospitals reached in August 903 million euros. According to the Budget Execution Synthesis released yesterday, only in the last two months there was an increase of 100 million in debts due more than 90 days, which the troika's commitment law aimed to eliminate. According to the history of the Directorate-General for Budget and Finance, the amount is even the highest since November 2013.
In an interview with the "SOL" newspaper last weekend, the Health Minister acknowledged a worsening of arrears compared to last year, which attributed to an increase in activity in the NHS and the introduction of 51 medicines in hospitals since the beginning of the year.
Wages are another variable that has been skidding the accounts of hospitals, and that's no small matter. This year, the budget of the units only reinstated the replacement of salaries in the civil service, but the return to the 35 hours motivated more hiring and, in addition, the reversal of the cut in overtime worked.
According to data from the Central Administration of the Health System, up to July, costs of pharmaceuticals in hospitals rose 7.9%, an increase of 54 million euros over the same period last year. Personnel expenses increased by 4.9%, 74 million more than in 2016. Of this amount, 25 million relate to increases in expenses with overtime and supplement payments, a figure that rose 15.3% in July.
Strengthening of the Ministry of Finance:
In an interview with the newspaper "SOL", the health minister said that this year, similar to what happened at the end of 2016, there should be a financial reinforcement to regularize debts. At the end of last year, the Finances released 250 million euros. The year ended with 544 million overdue payments - still a figure above that recorded in 2015.
What will be the oxygen balloon this year is still unknown, and for the year is expected to grow again with personnel expenses - overtime, which start to be paid at 100% on 1 December, will be fully remunerated throughout the year. And the government has already committed itself to reinstate the payment of quality hours and to create a transitional allowance for specialist nurses, in addition to thawing in career progression in the state.
Without adding value, Minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes assured that the sector will have the highest budget growth in 2018. "Naturally, it is not enough to respond to everything, because we are expanding activity, recruitment and investment," assumes now.
Regarding the debts, he revealed that a "structural and definitive solution" is being studied to mitigate the situation, which every year has been solved with extraordinary funds, allowing, for example, the allocation of more taxes to the NHS budget. After the tax on sugar, the government is studying the introduction of a salt tax.
Most of the debts are concentrated with pharmaceuticals. João Almeida Lopes, president of APIFARMA - Portuguese Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, pointed out that an increase in arrears of 51 million euros in a month, as happened from July to August, "clearly reveals the level of under-financing for the sector has been warning".
According to the official, if the extraordinary increase in finance is not significant, the situation of companies is dramatic. "We are on the eve of preparing the Budget and at the moment realizing that we have to turn the page to keep the SNS minimally sustainable," says.
The National Strategic Health Council of the Confederation of Portuguese Business (CIP), which unites health providers, this year proposed the creation of a law on means to guarantee a more stable budget for the NHS through the allocation of taxes. Government shows the intention to follow. Almeida Lopes also recalls the challenge launched by the President of the Republic for a pact for health that guarantees multi-year planning.