It's that time of year again, for Portugal's beleaguered SNS State health service. Image: SIC Notícias
It's that time of year again, for Portugal's beleaguered SNS State health service. Image: SIC Notícias

Hospital drama continues: patients stacked up on stretchers in corridors

Casualty departments ‘stuffed’; services closed in almost all parts of country

Another long weekend of ‘chaos in the State’s SNS health service’ has played out, with television stations featuring the streams of patients admitted into hospital on stretchers lined up in corridors (due to lack of available space in wards).

Correio da Manhã has managed to put a good spin on the dismal picture by finding a source who considers “sometimes it is safer to have patients in corridors rather than on wards as they are constantly passed by nurses who can see if they are stable, or if they need help…”

But equally it is not a good look, and according to SIC Notícias, it is unlikely to get better any time soon.

Right now there are 33 hospitals with problems, says the station – the majority of them in the Greater Lisbon area, and most running perilously low on obstetric care.

And because the weather is damper and colder now, respiratory problems and infections are adding to rising caseloads with a ‘contingency plan’ expected to be announced later this week “to take the pressure off services most affected”.

As to the limitations in hospitals (exacerbated by doctors’ working to rule), these are also contributing to waiting times at A&E departments, albeit Algarve hospitals are not cited in national reports today, and therefore they may not be quite as busy as the hospitals in the centre/ north of the country, where even urgent cases are waiting well over optimum time limits. 

According to CM, the decision to close so many services has been taken by the Executive Direction of the SNS – the relatively new management entity – which has had a fairly disastrous first year, and sees its CEO Fernando Araújo with one of the tabloid’s (in)famous thumbs down today.

That said, a quick internet search on ‘chaos in hospital casualty departments’ sees the situation today mirrored in countless years previously. In other words, this kind of ‘overload’ within Portuguese State hospitals during the winter months is ‘situation normal’. One that in spite of different policies, and different political influences, never seems to improve. ND

Sources: SIC Notícias/ Correio da Manhã