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Foreign Doctors Documentation Should be Recognised

Deputies of the Socialist Party for the Assembly of the Republic, among whom is Marta Freitas, have today made a request in Parliament for the Ordem dos Médicos to be heard regarding the lengthy processes of recognising the academic degrees of foreign doctors residing in Portugal, Madeira and the Azores.

It should be noted that the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party (GPPS) in the Assembly of the Republic has been making every effort to facilitate the employment of qualified foreign health professionals within the Portuguese National Service, especially given the uncertain times we are living in. Health profession doctors and nurses are currently under tremendous strain with both Covid and non-Covid cases.

Socialist deputies, including Marta Freitas, elected by Madeira, and Paulo Porto, elected by the emigration constituency, have been participating in a series of hearings with several foreign doctors residing in Portugal, the last of which took place last week within a group of medics called ‘Foreign Doctors in Portugal.’

During these hearings the deputies came to understand the long and laborious process foreign doctors, which include Portuguese citizens who have studied and qualified abroad, are subject to while their qualifications are scrutinised by Portuguese authorities.

Marta Freitas says that, “for the degree obtained abroad to be recognised, procedures for assessing linguistic and clinical knowledge in Portuguese Medical Schools are given, and it is important that they follow the deadlines.” “The Government of the Republic has brought in legislated to speed up the process but the final decision rests with the Order of Doctors who are ultimately responsible for approving applications but who demand such labour intensive documentation and certification that this process can take several years to complete.

Deputy Marta Freitas also stated that, “in the case of doctors who acquired their degree in Venezuela, they are not even recognized as general practitioners. In other nationalities, recognition is very difficult in the attribution of their specialisation. Failing to become a general practitioner, which is still an underuse of these resources, is a major problem given the lack in several regions of specialist doctors, which in turn means longer patient waiting lists and a higher number of deaths, while foreign, able and qualified doctors are sidelined.”

However, to protect patients it is necessary to ensure that that doctors who have qualified in other countries do have the appropriate linguistic and medical skills.

Samantha Gannon

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