“The Government's proposal for all doctors is that the hourly rate, from January onwards, increases by 22.7% because reducing working hours increases the hourly rate and it increases because today we proposed a salary update of 8. 5%”, indicated Manuel Pizarro.

The Minister of Health spoke in statements to journalists, at the end of another negotiating meeting with the Independent Union of Doctors (SIM) and the National Federation of Doctors (Fnam), which ended without an agreement.

Negotiations will resume on Wednesday and, at that time, the Ministry of Health will deliver a new counter-proposal which will include the value of the salary update which, until now, was 5.5%.

The demand of the unions representing doctors is, however, a salary increase of around 30%, but, in the minister's opinion, the Government's position is no longer so far away and, within the scope of the full dedication regime, the increase may even be higher.

“The full dedication models, which all doctors can freely adhere to, are models that lead to an immediate salary increase of around 35% and the transition of all Family Health Units to model B will mean that many doctors in primary health care could see its remuneration increased by around 60%”, he explained, defending the need to “look at the set of proposals”.

On the other hand, regarding another of the doctors' main demands – the replacement of 35 hours per week – Manuel Pizarro reaffirmed his availability to consider this schedule, but highlighted that “there must be 35 hours of effective work”.

“They must be balanced measures that, on the one hand, value doctors and give them better conditions to reconcile their professional and family lives, but ensure that the National Health Service improves its functioning. This is what we have to achieve,” he maintained.

Ahead of the next negotiation meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, the minister acknowledged that the way of counting working hours, within the scope of replacing the 35 hours per week, is the most divisive issue.