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Nurses at “breaking point” in Albufeira and Loulé

The Algarve branch of Portugal’s nurses union (SEP) has warned that nurses are reaching their “breaking point” at the basic emergency units in Albufeira and Loulé due to a serious shortage of staff.

“Nurses are doing everything they can, and even what they cannot do to keep the emergency units open,” Faro SEP representative Nuno Manjua says in a statement, just around two weeks after the region’s nurses took part in a two-day strike (July 28-29).

“They are working way beyond their limit. When they should be working 140 hours per month at the most, they are working nearly 200.

“They work many days without a day off, work several shifts in a row and some only rest four hours in a 24-hour period,” Manjua says.

He explains that nurses are reaching their “physical and mental limit”, and thus “the risk of making mistakes is higher”.

SEP also urges patients to be more understanding, and express their dissatisfaction through the right channels.

“Being aggressive against those who are making a super-human effort to help their patients does not make the situation any better, quite the opposite,” the union says.

Manjua ends the statement saying that “despair” and “frustration” is what nurses are experiencing at the moment, especially at such a busy time when the number of people seeking medical help in the Algarve increases drastically.

On July 28-29, nurses went on a strike across the Algarve to contest the shortage of nursing staff that dogs the regional health sector.

Shortly before the strike, SEP had already urged the government to “immediately hire more nurses for the Algarve” following recent efforts by health officials to boost the number of doctors in the region.

In a statement, SEP’s Faro delegation asked: “Does the health sector only need doctors?”

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com