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NHS CEO resigns

Fernando Araújo

The executive director of the National Health Service (SNS), Fernando Araújo, has resigned, together with his team, claiming that he does not want to be an obstacle to the Government in policies and measures it deems necessary.

“Respecting the principle of institutional loyalty, I will present to the Minister of Health, together with the team I manage, the request to resign from the position of executive director of the National Health Service”, said Fernando Araújo in a statement.

According to Fernando Araújo, this “difficult decision” will allow the new guardianship to “execute the policies and measures it deems necessary, with the required speed, preventing the current executive direction (DE-SNS) from being considered an obstacle to its implementation”.

Reports say that one of the reasons for his resignation involves the fact that the new Government gave him 60 days to present an activity report - which he found out throught the media.

According to Fernando Araújo, in the “first and only meeting held” with the new government, he conveyed his openness to continue in the same functions, with the aim of completing the ongoing reform, but placing itself at “the disposal of the new government team, if it understood how to change the policies and faces of the system”.

In Brussels, Health Minister Ana Paula Martins said she was "surprised" by this resignation. Regarding the report, she said the Ministry's aim is to assess the results of the organisational changes made to the SNS over the last year and a half, ranging from the generalisation of Local Health Units (ULS) throughout the country to the reorganisation of hospital emergency departments and the universalisation of model B Family Health Units (USF).

"We want to map out the attributions of each of the entities," explained the minister, who has never hidden her disagreement with the decision to include university hospitals in the ULS, which led her to step down as chairman of the board of the Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte (CHLN), to which the Santa Maria and Pulido Valente hospitals belong, at the end of last year.

The executive direction began its activity on January 1, 2023, following the new Statute of the National Health Service (SNS) proposed by the then Health Minister Marta Temido, with the objective of coordinating the assistance response of all SNS units and to modernise its management.

Extending the validity of prescriptions to 12 months, vaccination in community pharmacies and simplifying sick leave are examples of other recent changes that have had an impact on citizens' lives since the DE-SNS began operating in January 2023.

In her reaction, the leader of the PS parliamentary bench, Alexandra Leitão, considered that "it is important to clarify to the country, through Parliament, the reasons for this departure and also to understand what the Ministry of Health intends to do".

"We may be witnessing a reversal of a reform that was underway and has not yet been evaluated," Leitão told reporters, justifying her decision to call Ana Paula Martins and Fernando Araújo to the parliamentary Health Committee.


“We do not shy away from presenting the requested document, which we have already started to prepare, especially because we think that it is not only a responsibility, but also a duty, to expose the results of the work carried out, so that it can be scrutinized, something healthy in life public”, he highlighted.

In an extensive statement, Fernando Araújo said that he left, together with his team, with the notion that “everything that had been planned” was not done and that they “certainly made mistakes”, but “time was always short to execute a reform of this dimension.”

“However, the first signs are quite positive and more favorable than the forecasts that had initially been included in the planning instruments”, said the doctor, who will now, “quietly”, return to his care, teaching, and research team, as an NHS doctor and university professor.

After thanking the professionals with whom he worked for their availability and commitment, Fernando Araújo left a “personal word of recognition to the XXIII Government” and to the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, “for all the support shown since the first day, from the personal and public way”, which he says he holds “with enormous honor and respect”.

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