Hospital walkout cancelled following “misunderstanding”

A “misunderstanding” nearly led 17 doctors running the Algarve hospitals’ casualty units to resign on Monday (June 15) over new rules they believed put nurses in the position to make decisions “only a qualified doctor should make”.

But a meeting with the Algarve hospital board (CHA) on Friday (June 12) quickly settled the dispute, and all is reported to be going normally at the region’s three hospitals.

“It was all a misunderstanding,” hospital chief Pedro Nunes told the Resident.

The doctors in charge voiced their concerns last week after hearing that new rules implemented at Lagos, Portimão and Faro’s A&E departments gave nurses the authority to make decisions such as “transfer patients to other medical departments or call ambulances to transport them somewhere else”.

They said that the nurses’ new power would create “management conflicts”, as they would give nurses “just as much power as doctors”.

But Nunes said the upset was a storm in a teacup.

“We sat down and explained to them that nurses won’t decide whether or not a patient should be transferred somewhere else,” he explained.

“That decision is a medical one for doctors. What nurses can now do is deal with the administrative part of calling ambulances, and so forth,” he said.

The head of CHA said all the hospital board wanted to do was reduce the doctors’ workload, adding there was “no reason for such as fuss”.

The Resident tried to confirm this with the regional department of the independent syndicate of doctors (SIM), but had not received a reply before going to press.