Complain of being forced to work at A&E, even when training hundreds of kms away
Pediatric interns at Faro Hospital are up in arms over what they say are “attempts at coercion” to make them work shifts in A&E even when they are taking part in training in hospitals outside the region.
The 14 interns (medical graduates working under guidance of a senior physician) have sent a letter to various entities, stressing particularly that “the lack of pediatricians in the Algarve region cannot, and could never, be filled by interns, as they are in training”.
The letter has been sent to the Executive Commission of the National Health Service (SNS), to the president of the Medical Association, and to the CHUA (central university hospital of the Algarve) board of directors, among other entities.
As Lusa explains, these doctors “who are still in a period of post-graduate training leading to obtaining their specialty, state that they have been “informed by unofficial means” that it has been proposed that 4th and 5th year interns do their emergency periods (at least 12 hours/week) at the CHUA, regardless of their place of training”.
This may sound good on paper: they are interns at Faro Hospital, being called to work in A&E in the CHUA area (Faro / Portimão) seems reasonable. But, 4th and 5th year interns are “mostly in training in other hospitals, since the CHUA has no suitability for them”, says the letter.
In other words, a number of the 14 aren’t even in the Algarve.
“Some interns are in Lisbon (300 km from Faro), Coimbra (450 km from Faro) and Oporto (550 km from Faro)”, the interns’ letter explains.
This displacement, if it is forced through, “would cause great disturbance in the daily life and training of each of these interns”, the young doctors continue.
Their case, however, may well fall on stony ground. Lusa explains, the Independent Union of Doctors has cited a circular from May 5, 2017, sanctioned by the general medical council (Ordem dos Médicos), which states:
“In the context of the normal working period, intern doctors who are attending Specific Training and carrying out internship in a service different from their placement must ensure 12 weekly hours of emergency service integrated in a team of the service in which they are carrying out internship, whenever it has organised urgency”.
Another regulation stipulates that “intern doctors are subject to the work organisation of the entity in charge of the service or establishment responsible for the administration of training, and their working hours should be established and programmed in accordance with the work regime of the special medical career and the activities and objectives of the respective training programmes”.
Says Lusa, “the SNS is struggling with a shortage of doctors, a situation that has led it to increasingly resort to these professionals still in training.
“In the Algarve, pediatric services are frequently closed at weekends, with users having to travel to Faro to be attended to”.
Request by Bloco de Esquerda to hear health minister in parliament over baby’s death in Algarve
A request by Bloco de Esquerda to hear the health minister over the death of a british Baby in Portimão Hospital last month is still pending.
As the left-wingers stressed, official explanations that “everything possible was done” to avert the tragedy, appear to have been a tad expedient.
“It is evident that instead of having placed all means available, what transpired was a consecutive lack of means”, said a statement on May 24.
“It is public knowledge that the pediatric inter-hospital transport ambulance in Portimão was inoperable due to a lack of medical specialists and that the pediatric ward in Faro hospital was closed. It is also public knowledge that an attempt was made to activate the pediatric inter-hospital transport ambulance from Lisbon and that, because this was occupied, the option was to activate the helicopter from Loulé, which had no specialised team”.
The baby’s family have since requested all paperwork on the procedures that took place with their child, as they too feel there is a lot more still to explain.