Maternity services in Lisbon in imminent rupture (CHUA, Obstetric Emergency)

Nurses & Obstetric Observatory have perfect solution for chaos in State maternity services

Ideas put to health minister – and are included in EU directive

Nurses and the country’s Obstetric Observatory have the perfect solution for the unmitigated chaos in Portugal’s State maternity services.

The Ordem dos Enfermeiros (Nurses’ Order) formally presented the plan to health minister Marta Temido at the beginning of July, explaining that it was part of a European directive “that has been in place for several years”.

In other words, if Portugal had simply moved with the times, the country would not need to be mired in so much confusion that mothers-to-be simply have no idea which hospital will admit them on the day they have their babies.

The community directive determines that specialist nurses have all the skills required to autonomously accompany/ oversee low-risk pregnancies in health centres.

As president of the Nurses’ Order Ana Rita Cavaco told Lusa back in June, “most European countries” have ‘transposed’ this directive – meaning they have altered their health service to accommodate it.

Portugal however has not. If it had, she says, it would mean that pregnant women could have normal and regular check-ups with much less recourse to emergency services in hospitals – the very services that are now buckling under pressure and slamming shut their doors for days at a time, particularly over weekends.

Now, the Observatory for Obstetric Violence (OVO PT) has thrown its weight behind nurses, saying there is no reason for the “total dependence” of hospitals on specialist doctors. Give specialist nurses the autonomy they are calling for, and the “total collapse of the support system for pregnant women at all stages of their accompaniment” could be reversed.

As OVO PT stresses, there are currently 3,182 specialist nurses whose potential is being wasted in this regard.

Putting out a statement, OVO PT argues that “the current situation calls for the creation of normal birth centres that the Ordem dos Enfeirmeiros (Nurses Order) recently presented,” to make human resources profitable and ensure accessibility to maternal and obstetric health care.

Normal birth centres promise “to rescue the woman’s right to privacy and dignity during labour and postpartum, in a place similar to her family environment, and at the same time guaranteeing safe care and offering appropriate technological resources in cases of eventual need”.

OVO PT is a non-profit association, formed by health service users and professionals. Its ethos is for multidisciplinarity within the health service – namely the involvement of non-medical professionals, considering that “in this way, it will be possible to improve care provided and simultaneously remove the current pressure on health professsionals” that has seen vast swathes of the State health service start to buckle.

The solution is there; it has been for years. It is simply up to the health ministry to MOVE…