The eight surgical team leaders at the Hospital de Faro they will no longer bank in the emergency room from January 1st. The doctors' decision was transmitted to the Board of Directors of the University Hospital Center of the Algarve (CHUA) in a letter dated yesterday, December 4, and justified by the «persistence of the current unacceptable and degraded working conditions in the surgery service» .
The eight surgeons make use of «legal prerogatives, namely the age limit», which stipulates that doctors over 55 years old cannot be forced to do emergencies.
The President of the Medical Association, who visited the unit of Faro of CHUA, says that the eight doctors "have the total solidarity of the Order."
“Colleagues can't take it anymore. Doctors are often working without adequate clinical security, which is not advisable. The country, even through recent examples, has to ensure that there is the necessary clinical safety, so that patients are treated in the best way», said Miguel Guimarães.
“When we feel that the rug from under our feet is slipping away and we start having immense difficulties, we have to give the alert. What these doctors are doing is giving a warning cry, a joint signal and saying: something has to be done!», he added.
About a month ago, doctors from the Surgery I department of the Hospital de Faro warned that they would no longer do extra work in the emergency room. from December 1st, in a letter sent to the CHUA administration. Even so, those responsible for hospitals in the Algarve ensured that there would be no failures in this service this month.
In both situations, what is at issue is the lack of working conditions in the emergency room, but also the difference in the remuneration of staff physicians and staff physicians, "who earn four times more" than those who work full time, to do the same job.
“For over a year we have been drawing attention to the lack of working conditions in the emergency department. We have been putting off this decision, because we know that those who suffer, in the last instance, are the patients, but there is an exhaustion that puts into question the quality of the service provided", illustrated, in turn, Martins dos Santos, director of the service of CHUA surgery.
“We don't have working conditions, we're going to jeopardize the patients' health and we're going to jeopardize the surgeons' health. And that's why we took this position, which comes after several promises that conditions would be improved, but which, for a year now, was zero," he summed up.
“There are a number of situations. Surgeons are unable to observe patients. They have a single room where they see 30 or 40 users».
On the other hand, these specialists “systematically experience difficulty in accessing the Operating Room. In a hospital with a multipurpose emergency, there is only one anesthesia team. And we have eight surgical specialties, with several patients who have to be delayed because they do not have access to the block in good time».
This situation "often jeopardizes the persistence of the organ and its functionality, depending on the type of pathology".
The way in which patients "accumulate in the emergency department", due to the lack of beds, is another problem identified. “I have been here for over 30 years. The situation has been deteriorating and has never been as bad as it is now», assured Martins dos Santos.
As for the difference in the amount paid by the hour to task doctors, in relation to what is paid to clinicians in the house, the CHUA surgeon says that he and his colleagues consider "that article 59 of the Constitution must be complied with: equal pay for work equal".
In the case of the Hospital of Faro, there is an aggravating factor, because the professionals in the home have to follow the patients after the surgery, which does not happen with the workers. In other words, those in the house earn much less to have more work.
"On Monday, there was only one surgeon during the night in the multipurpose emergency service and, next Saturday, there are two surgeons by day and one by night, all of them hired", he denounced.
These and other complaints were heard by the Chairman of the Medical Association from doctors in different departments of CHUA.
“Unfortunately, surgery is not the only service with problems. The various colleagues who spoke with us, from the different specialties, were unanimous in complaining of difficulties and a worsening of conditions in recent years. The lack of investment has been glaring and the lack of motivation is increasing», guaranteed João Dias, from the Independent Trade Union of Doctors (SIM).
According to the union leader, these difficulties lead to doctors becoming discontented and that "they feel almost invited to leave the civil service and the National Health Service, to be hired, later, for much higher values, to do the same work."
The solution, he considered, is to change the law that prevents NHS doctors from earning a higher value when they work overtime, at the level of other professionals from abroad.
João Dias and Miguel Guimarães considered essential the rapid advance of the Central Hospital of the Algarve, something that the President I had already defended.