New team of doctors presents “excuses of responsibility”

… and President Marcelo whips up further storm

In line with the actions of many other colleagues over the last few months 14 more doctors – this time from the A&E department of Loures’ Beatriz de Ângelo hospital – have presented ‘excuses of responsibility’ as a way of highlighting the lack of conditions/ excessive workload blighting Portugal’s SNS health service.

But instead of letting this development pass, it seems that President Marcelo has whipped it up (very possibly unintentionally) by telling an interviewer that “excuses of responsibility are worth nothing legally”.

The full interview, with CNN Portugal, will be aired later tonight – but this excerpt is already inflaming representatives of the medical profession who believe Marcelo is trying to “interfere in the legal system” and “seeking to condition” the activity of doctors “in the defence of patients”.

Excuses of responsibility are not designed to protect doctors, secretary-general of SIM (the independent syndicate of doctors) Jorge Roque da Cunha explains. They are an alert doctors sound “to demand conditions of safety from the government” which they (the doctors) believe are sorely missing.

Far from pontificating on the legal niceties of excuses of responsibility, Roque Cunha says he would much prefer that the President joined doctors “in the sense of demanding more investment in the national health system”.

This is just the latest twist in a tortuous road that has seen SNS State health service lurch ever further from its intended purpose (to care for the health of the country’s citizens).

Noel Carrilho, president of FNAM (the national federation of doctors) has sought to reinforce this point,  explaining why the Beatriz Ângelo team has added their names to the medical personnel presenting excuses of responsibility.

“Doctors are not wanting to wash their hands of responsibilities, they are wanting to put the emphasis of responsibility on those who have it by not offering the minimum conditions necessary for work to be carried out with minimum quality”, he told Lusa.

This is the nub of the issue. Politicians have the constitutional duty to defend the health of the country’s citizens, he says. It is time for them to understand “the real dimension of the problem”.