Minister of Health guarantees that no maternity hospital will be closed

Minister says that you have to "do everything" in your power to avoid closures in the interior areas of the country

The Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, guaranteed today, in Porto, that no maternity hospital in Portugal will be closed, not even maternity hospitals in a difficult situation, as is the case in some inland areas with “a shortage of professionals”, as is the case in the Algarve and in Alentejo.

“We are not going to close any maternity hospital. […] We have a situation that I do not hide and that is very difficult. It involves some maternity hospitals, namely in the interior of the country, with a great shortage of professionals. But these are really areas where we have to do everything in our power to keep the maternity hospitals in operation, because people may be less numerous, but they are Portuguese like the others, they have the right to the SNS and they are places where the distance going through is bigger”, declared Manuel Pizarro to journalists.

On the sidelines of the ceremony to mark World Cancer Day, which took place in Porto this morning, at the Northern Regional Center of the Portuguese League Against Cancer, Manuel Pizarro recalled that closing maternity hospitals would have two effects.

“In some cases it would leave mothers too far from the nearest maternity ward. That would be a problem. In another case, this would lead to the closure of maternity hospitals where training of young specialists is taking place. Well, this is exactly the opposite of what we want”, she said, reinforcing the idea that Portugal needs more specialists in obstetrics and gynecology.

Questioned about what would be the right model to combat the fact that maternity hospitals are in a rotation system, Manuel Pizarro considers that this solution has proven to work well.

“I think that the solution that we found frankly has proven to work well, that is, we have guaranteed quality and safety to mothers and the children that are born and we have guaranteed predictability and tranquility to the populations since we adopted this model of alternating functioning, programmed with predictability” .

“The turnover model is being worked on by the [SNS] executive board and that is what we should do. We took measures, we followed their implementation and then we tried to assess what happened ”, he explained.

“The first assessment was made in relation to the two weekends of Christmas and New Year, which are always the most difficult from a human resources point of view, where things went extremely well. 849 children were born in the SNS [National Health System] maternity hospitals and with total safety and tranquility”, declared Manuel Pizarro, reiterating that the model will continue with “adaptations” in the first quarter of 2023 and, that in the end, they will be made the due evaluations

According to Manuel Pizarro, if there is something to correct, it will be corrected.

“If there are conditions to improve, we improve. The executive management of the SNS is doing this work, I think with great competence”, he concludes.

On the sidelines of the World Cancer Day ceremony, the Minister of Health considered that breast cancer screening is “frankly well”, but admits that cervical cancer has not yet recovered from the pandemic and colorectal cancer is disparate.