Enough! 18 nursing ‘heavyweights’ demand expulsion of Portugal’s outspoken ‘bastonária’

Following truly offensive social media commentary singling out the mayoress of Portimão and other Algarve public figures, the head (bastonária) of the Nurses Order, Ana Rita Cavaco, is suffering a major backlash.

Yesterday, former ‘bastonárias’ Maria Augusta Sousa and Mariana Diniz were so embarrassed by Ms Cavaco’s comments, that they made a public apology over her remarks. Today, it is the turn of 18 nursing heavyweights – teachers, managers, healthcare workers – all of them members of the Order that Ms Cavaco leads.

Explain reports, they have “decided to say ‘enough!’ and present a formal complaint to the Order’s Jurisdictional Council”, demanding Ms Cavaco’s dismissal.

The initiative has taken the form of a ‘disciplinary complaint’ sent via email, to be followed up later today by a registered letter.

Professional nurse, lecturer at Évora university and former coordinator of the national continuous care network Manuel Lopes ‘started this movement’ censuring Ms Cavaco’s recent performance at the head of their Order, describing her behaviour as “an attack on the dignity and liberty of others”.

The swingeing commentary that has landed the bastonária in so much trouble came on her Facebook page.

As has been widely reported, Ms Cavaco resorted to very personal comments about Portimão mayoress Isilda Gomes – who publicly admitted to being obese – and allegations about the Algarve’s pandemic coordinator, respected politician Jorge Botelho, and his wife which are now the subject of a libel suit (click here).

The controversy didn’t stop there. When columnist Daniel Oliveira criticised Ms Cavaco’s terminology, she called him ‘and others like him’ ‘manure’ in a new tirade casting aspersions on Mr Oliveira’s qualifications as a journalist.

As Manuel Lopes explains, he feels “uncomfortable” with Ms Cavaco’s “completely unrestrained language” that has been, if anything, increasing in stridency.

Thus he launched his ‘complaint’ that has since been embraced by so many others.

He told Diário de Notícias today “this movement (of professionals against Ms Cavaco’s remarks) has been growing. I have an email and message box full of declarations of people who want to subscribe to the complaint”.

The bottom line coming from the 18 is that ‘freedom of expression is one thing; gratuitous insults another’: “Democracy teaches us to listen to voices that disagree with us and construct, through dialogue and mutual respect, the path we consider most adequate for the well-being of others and the community”.

Diário de Notícias has contacted the Order of Nurses to find out if Ms Cavaco has anything to say about the disciplinary complaint, but was received with a simple: “No comment”.

Says the paper, it is the first time in the history of Portugal’s respected Order of Nurses that anything like this has happened, and while it is unclear how long the Jurisdictional Council could take to evaluate the complaint, one of the outcomes “could well be (Ms Cavaco’s) expulsion”.

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