The relationship between the State, the social sector and the private sector has shifted in accordance with the dominant ideological mark of the political cycles. Throughout the 40 years of existence of the National Health Service (NHS), a common point subsists in each political cycle – the indispensability of the NHS qua a universalist system able to assure the right to health of the Portuguese citizens. Disagreements that have been taking place in different political cycles essentially arise out of the interpretation of how to manage public health services, how to increase its efficiency or how ensure certain type of services which are not traditionally made available by the NHS. Such divergences also derive from the interpretation of the role played by the private sector, sometimes supported and encouraged by the State, other times relegated to a subsidiary and secondary role vis-à-vis- the NHS.
/ / Portuguese political cycles and the role of the State and private and social sectors in health