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Posted by portugalpress on July 09, 2018

Horrendous problems in the country’s SNS State hospitals have seen pregnant women ‘ejected’ from labour wards in the middle of labour while surgeons and doctors resign en-masse.

Up and down the country, the situation is one of barely controlled chaos.

Nurses’ union leader Rita Cavaco has stated the obvious: “This will be a difficult summer”, while other syndicate leaders and doctors stress health service personnel are “at their limit”.

This latest hiatus in a national service that has been hanging by threads for years came late on Friday when the heads of internal medicine and surgery at Lisbon’s Centro Hospitalar Central said ‘enough is enough’.

The conditions these 12 health professionals have had to work in are simply untenable, they explained, citing those of A&E departments as “not having acceptable security”.

A source for the hospital’s management endorsed the claims, saying “in essence” they are “legitimate”.

The 12 are now waiting to be replaced, as the debate has inflamed politicians. Left-wingers (Bloco de Esquerda) are “demanding” the hiring of 6000 health professionals before the government settles its 2019 State Budget.

With the country approaching legislative elections, this is all coming ‘at the worst possible time’. The government is buoyed up by a ‘radical left’ that holds public institutions and people’s rights to be treated properly within them in utmost regard.

The spectre of women already in the process of childbirth being moved hospitals - as happened when the labour wards in Alfredo da Costa shut down on Friday - has seen Opposition PSD launch into criticism over “total irresponsibility”.

The crunch here is the decision to agree that health service professionals could finally return to the 35-hour week, abolished during the austerity years.

Most public sector workers have been enjoying 35-hour weeks since 2016, but the government had always balked at restoring the limit to the health service, because it simply didn’t have enough personnel to make up the shortfall.

Nine days ago, this changed: health personnel returned to 35-hour weeks, and hospital rosters duly crashed.

Bloco de Esquerda may be demanding 6000 new staff but the truth is that the government appears able only to hire 2000, and even those won’t be arriving soon enough.

While national papers today are full of criticism for health minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes, security guards in six Lisbon hospitals upped the ante on Saturday by walking out too.

Say reports, this follows their company (ANER security) “failing to pay their staff”. Lisbon’s central health administration denies this is due to its failure to pay ANER.

This is perhaps a side issue in the grand scheme of things, but it affects hospital security nonetheless.

In the Algarve, where nurses syndicate SEP is running a ‘shaming campaign’ on local buses alerting holidaymakers to a lack of 500 nurses throughout the region, local health chiefs are about to start ‘regularising’ the labour situation of 116 professionals on ‘precarious contracts’.

Thus, the crisis rolls on, and as Bloco de Esquerda’s Catarina Martins has stressed, it sees the government paying millions for temporary stop-gap help from the private sector, at the expense of an ever-degrading national health service.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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