- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Nurses in Portugal have begun a 48-hour strike over pay, working hours and what they say is an acute shortage of staff in the public health service.

The Portuguese Nurses Union says more than 80 percent of its members walked out Wednesday. Media reported the cancellation of many hospital operations and some treatments, though most appointments with doctors went ahead.

A recent financial crisis compelled Portugal’s government to slash spending. That included pay cuts and longer hours for public employees, including nurses.

The union says many nurses have quit and joined the private sector or gone to work abroad. At the start of this year there were just under 30,000 nurses in the national health service, down from about 39,000 three years ago.

The Health Ministry made no immediate comment.

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