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Emergency departments in six hospitals ‘closed’ due to doctors’ overtime ban

Doctors throughout country are refusing to work beyond annual 150-hours limit

Emergency services in six hospitals are closed today due to the nationwide doctors’ ban on working extra overtime.

The Order of Physicians has called for an urgent meeting with the health minister, fearing up to 25 hospitals will stop providing key services in the coming months unless the government meets syndicates, at least some of the way.

This is a dispute that goes back well into last year: doctors have been pushing for ‘an opening’ by the government, ostensibly to no satisfactory avail.

Now, the hospitals of Barcelos, Caldas da Rainha, Chaves, Guarda, Santarém and Tomar are testament to this failure.

Público has reported that Barcelos will not have a surgical emergency department this month; internal medicine will also close its service every weekend through October.

In Caldas da Rainha, internal medicine, surgery and orthopedics are restricted, says the paper. Pediatrics also did not operate normally last weekend.

In Chaves, the hospital is reported to be unable to offer pediatric emergency services for a week; in Guarda, internal medicine shut down over the weekend and will be closed again from Thursday’s bank holiday until the following Monday.

Says the paper, in Santarém “there will also be a shortage of medical resources that will jeopardise observation in General Surgery and Internal Medicine.

“In addition, all extra-duty surgeries have been cancelled”.

Finally, Tomar announced the closure of its emergency department for the nights of Saturday and Sunday. The inference is that this could happen over future weekends.

“We have no way of counting in absolute numbers the doctors who have been declaring their refusal in recent days, but when they tell us that 80%of the service where they work is compromised in some shifts – and that’s what they tell us – we can expect this situation to worsen in the coming weeks,” Carla Meira, spokesperson for the Doctors in Struggle movement, told Público.

UPDATE: Shortly after this text went up online, the emergency gynacology/ obstetrics service at Aveiro Hospital announced it will be closing tonight, and over every weekend through October.

Record number of retired doctors

2023 is set to break the record for the number of doctors retiring. Much like the situation with teachers in the State sector, hundreds have put in for retirement.

Between January and October, 705 doctors officially retired from the Ministry of Health – a figure very close to last year’s total of 782.

More than 100 more are expected to retire by the end of the year.

The government has announced the opening of 2,400 internship places in 2024, but whether these will be filled, and by doctors from which countries is the question.

As the president of the Order of Physicians has warned, this is a crisis of unprecedented proportions for the country’s already ailing State health service.

Source: Público/ Correio da Manhã/  AEIOU