Casualty departments in crisis as Algarve doctors threaten mass-walkout

Seventeen doctors running Algarve casualty units have threatened to resign on Monday (June 15) over rules they claim put nurses in the position to make decisions “only a qualified doctor should make”.

The region’s hospital boss Pedro Nunes, however, says it’s all a storm in a teacup.

The controversy began after hospital administrators announced new rules for Lagos, Portimão and Faro’s A&E departments.

According to the 17 doctors in charge, the rules give nurses the authority to make decisions such as “transfer patients to other medical departments or call ambulances to transport them somewhere else”.

The doctors say the nurses’ new powers could create “management conflicts”, as they effectively give nurses “just as much power as doctors”.

“It makes no sense,” João Dias, regional director of the independent syndicate of doctors (SIM) explained, adding: “At a time when hospitals should have a calm environment and be preparing for a flood of people during the summer when there’s always a lack of doctors, there is a conflict that will destabilise everybody.”

Thus A&E bosses have given health chiefs until Monday (June 15) to rescind the new rules.

Talking to hospital chief Pedro Nunes, the Resident heard a different side to the story. Nunes told us the doctors have misunderstood the new rules.

“It won’t be nurses who decide whether or not a patient should be transferred somewhere else”, he told us. “That decision is a medical one and is still the responsibility of the doctors.”

“What changes is that nurses can now deal with the administrative work of calling ambulances and transferring patients,” he explained, saying the “idea was to reduce the administrative workload of casualty doctors”.

“All we wanted to do was to make their job easier,” he added. “If doctors insist, we will go back to the old rules.”

“There is no reason for such a fuss,” he concluded.

Thus, doctors, Nunes and the rest of the hospital board will be meeting tomorrow (June 12) in a bid to sort the whole issue out.