It started out as a fairly innocuous news story and has since spiralled into something a great deal more sinister.
Now the country’s nurses association wants to know if there is any criminal liability in the deaths of 2,605 people whose slot for national health surgery simply did not come in time.
The ‘Ordem dos Enfermeiros” has called on the public prosecutor’s office to investigate the case in the light of the report released by the Accounts Court earlier this month that ruled that the health ministry is guilty of falsifying last year’s waiting list data (click here).
Said the Order’s president Ana Rita Cavaco: “I think it is important for the Public Ministry to determine whether criminal responsibility exists as a way of safeguarding the SNS public health service and the lives of Portuguese people”.
Cavaco has also shown her lack of confidence in the group set up to analyse the Accounts Court findings, as in her opinion, anyone investigating this implied hornet’s nest should have nothing to do with the health service.
Diário de Notícias concludes its story on the nursing representative’s challenge stressing that the Accounts Court found clear indication that the management of surgical waiting lists and the times people on them were left waiting for operations had “degraded” between the years 2014-2016 – though essentially delays were in the region of around 7-11 days.
Nonetheless, the average waiting time for surgery from the time of first consultation (with the surgeon) increased 25% in 2014, up to 29% in 2016.
Yesterday, the president of the Accounts Court told the parliamentary health commission that “there is a practice of wiping waiting list data at the SNS, and that it did not just occur in 2016”, DN adds.