Nine heads of service at Santa Maria Hospital follow through on resignation ‘threat’

Nine heads of service at Lisbon’s Santa Maria Hospital have created stark precedent today by physically leaving their posts exactly 12 days since warning they were ready to do so.

Normally, ‘block resignations’ in the SNS health service are ‘cries of alert’ more than serious indications that health professionals mean to do as they say.

But this time it is different – which underlines the parlous situation of Portugal’s State health care.

Practically everywhere you look, doctors and nurses are ‘at the end of their tethers’ (click here and here).

Less than two months before legislative elections – with a government gunning to be returned with a working majority – Santa Maria’s ‘stand’ is just another sign that the coming winter will be fraught with complications and uncertainty.

When they submitted their block resignations earlier this month, the doctors leading specialities in Santa Maria’s A&E department explained management had only a limited space of time to deal with their complaints (click here).

Today, they explain the CHULN (administrative council) “hasn’t given any answer” to complaints “which were very clear”, and, in spite of a source having ‘guaranteed’ that the council was “totally open and ready” to find solutions.

Nine of the original 10 who signed the letter are thus leaving. The nine are over the age of 55, and as such should not be working the hours demanded by a busy inner city A&E department.

Syndicate chief João Proença has told reporters that this new situation will make emergency surgery at Santa Maria – one of the capital’s principal hospitals – practically impossible.

The ‘main problem’ powering the threat of mass-resignation was the lack of doctors to make up surgical teams. With nine less specialists onboard, the problem looks like it has morphed into a(nother) full-blown crisis for a service that is already stretched to the limits.

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