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Whatsapp post exposes vulnerability of hospital pledge to pregnant women

State entity’s assurances dismantled by obstetricians at CUF private hospital

A Whatsapp post has exposed an apparent gaping hole in the assurance, given by the clinical board of Lisbon North hospital centre, that “there should be no fear on the part of the population” and that “obstetricians will continue to provide the best care to pregnant women”.

It was an assurance given in the wake of hiatus at State hospital Santa Maria, whose heads of obstetrics were summarily removed last month – leading to low risk pregnancies being ‘transferred’ from Santa Maria (as and when considered necessary) to the private sector.

That private sector is not equipped for them, according to a post written by two obstetricians and shared widely by doctors in the CUF group of private hospitals.

Says SIC Notícias: “Two obstetricians of Hospital CUF Descobertas say that the security of pregnant women is at risk” because CUF suffers similar problems in terms of obstetric personnel as Santa Maria.

Whereas Santa Maria medical teams can only muster three obstetricians (when there should be five), CUF has only two (when there should be three).

The obstetricians wrote: “We know the administration cannot refuse to help the State, we also think we should be helping, but without putting good practices at risk and transforming a private hospital of quality into another reality, from which we wanted to leave some years ago” (this last part suggesting the two doctors previously worked in the State sector).

The hospital “doesn’t have the necessary conditions to accept these additional pregnancies”, the two doctors continue.

Exposing even further the thin ice on which this protocol was introduced is the fact that a third element in birthing teams at CUF is “obligatory under the law”, says SIC, citing a ministry of health dispatch dated 2014.

SIC has asked CUF whether it will be boosting its obstetric teams, as a result of the ‘new deal’ with Santa Maria, but says it has not yet received an answer.

The purpose of the obstetricians’ Whatsapp post was precisely expose the need for extra obstetric specialists.

What SIC has been told by CUF, is that the hospital “still has the conditions to receive pregnant women sent by the SNS” health service (even though technically this appears  not to be the case).

“The official opinion of the private hospital does not reflect the concerns of the obstetricians who delivered the baby of one of the pregnant women sent to CUF from Santa Maria”, says SIC – continuing with the text written by the obstetricians in which the duo say: “We do not think necessary minimums of good practices and clinical safety are being assured for our emergency services to remain open 24-hours with just two obstetricians”.

SIC stresses that it has tried to speak with the obstetricians in question, but neither are willing to give interviews, very possibly because of the “official opinion” of their employers.

The story comes as in Santa Maria, the obstetric team that has already cited “bullying” by the clinical board that initiated this protocol has called for the “personal, direct and urgent” intervention of health minister Manuel Pizarro.

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