Bank Holiday weekend sees Lisbon maternity units on major go-slow

Saturday to Monday could be difficult days for having a birth in Lisbon”, admits syndicate

“Babies come when they are ready”: it’s a saying that could well see mums-to-be in Lisbon simply hoping their infants do not choose any time between Saturday and next Monday.

Two thirds of the capital’s maternity units will either be totally closed for the Bank Holiday weekend (that is, “not receiving pregnant women”) , or operating ‘in contingency’ (meaning, minimum services).

SIM, the syndicate of doctors, admits that June 11 to 13 “could be difficult days to have a birth” – saying it “laments the silence of the Ministry of Health”.

SIM and the health ministry have a long history of stand-offs. The syndicate’s president, former PSD MP Jorge Roque da Cunha, told Rádio Renascença today that this latest drama has “nothing to do with the Bank Holiday. It is a structural problem”, and will remain so “while the idea of the health ministry persists not to alter doctors’ salaries, not to invest in the SNS; while the health minister persists in saying there are no problems.

“The situation will only get worse”, he added, “not better”.

Roque da Cunha did however appeal for proper consideration of the problem “because when propaganda comes up against reality, reality always wins”.

Meantime, the next few days for expectant mothers may well be fraught. The situation is “worrying”, admits SIM’s president.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com