Santa Maria to send low risk pregnancies to private hospitals

EU directive encouraging use of specialist nurses for low-risk pregnancies seemingly ignored

The ugly battle at Santa Maria Hospital continues, with authorities putting out the story today that low risk pregnancies will now be sent to private hospitals.

This solution is explained with reference to the “animosity between doctors (at the hospital) and the administration”. But it looks to be much more than that.

Last week, the Ordem dos Médicos (Order of Doctors, often referred to as the general medical council) withdrew its confidence in respected obstetrician Diogo Ayres de Campos because of his support for an EU directive encouraging health services in member states to give nurses, specially trained in midwifery the responsibility for low-risk pregnancies.

The nurses are all for this new responsibility; the Order of Doctors for its own reasons absolutely against – saying the fact that Diogo Ayres de Campos supports it makes him a physician they cannot trust. 

None of this makes sense, in that Diogo Ayres de Campos is described by those who work with him as brilliant and unique. It is because of his reputation (for brilliance) that he was entrusted in drafting a new approach to obstetric care in the first ‘place – at a point where maternal mortality within the State health service has been increasing…)

Thus this is looking like a lot more than ‘animosity between Santa Maria’s doctors and the hospital’s administration

The decision outlined by SIC Noticias today has reportedly been based on “lack of available doctors, with authorities “guaranteeing that safe care is assured”.

Health minister Manuel Pizarro has been quoted using one of his favourite phrases: “My first message is of tranquility (…) the measures taken by the SNS executive direction – namely resorting in cases of necessity to private maternity services – allow that all people will be attended with quality and safety”.

The first patient was reportedly moved from the hospital to a private unit on Sunday, and this will continue as and when it is deemed necessary.

Private hospitals involved in this new protocol are Luz, Lusíadas e CUF , says SIC.

Manuel Pizarro concluded: “I’m not satisfied, I wish the conflict didn’t exist and that we didn’t have to use the service of a third party. But I want to tell people to feel reassured”.

SIC does not report that MPs watching all this play out have described the SNS executive direction as being “run by a dictator” (referring to CEO Fernando Araújo).

On Friday, in parliament, questions were raised as to who, exactly, IS running the SNS health service (the minister for health or the CEO of the executive direction)?

Today, Mariana Mortágua, the coordinator of Bloco de Esquerda, predicts that the government’s latest plan is (the beginning of) “the end of the Portuguese State health service.

“When a service is transferred to private individuals it is because the government has given up on fighting the lack of doctors. This is the proposal of the PSD, Liberal Initiative and CHEGA”, she said, when “the solution is to invest in the national health service, not to give up on it. (…) Manuel Pizarro has to decide whether to side with Montenegro, of the PSD – who praises him for choosing to transfer SNS patients to the private sector – or to side with the SNS”, she railed, calling for both Manuel Pizarro, Fernando Araújo and Diogo Ayres de Campo to be heard in parliament.

In Mariana Mortágua’s mindset, the narrative up till now makes no sense: Indeed “it does not correspond with the truth”…

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