"What nurses feel is that they are disposable. The clapping at the window was a very nice moment (...) but we dismiss that. We want to be valued and recognised for our work", said Ana Rita Cavaco, who was speaking to journalists at the end of a visit to a vaccination centre in Coimbra.

According to Cavaco, in the north alone, the Association has counted around 700 nurses who were contracted to support the fight against the pandemic and who are at risk of being let go, estimating that there are between 1,800 and 2,000 nationwide.

"We are talking about thousands of nurses across the country. What is happening in Leiria [the union is talking about several nurses who will be laid off], is happening in Faro and has already happened in other hospitals, from north to south, and has only not happened in the islands, and let's hope not, as a matter of fact, when we were in Madeira, the Government's intention is to keep all of them because they will need them for the recovery, and that's what we should be doing here", she stressed.

Ana Rita Cavaco recalled that more than 1,200 nurses emigrated during the pandemic.

"There were some things the Government could have done to retain nurses instead of offering them four-month contracts and now they are sending them away from hospitals, with thousands of surgeries that need to be recovered", she noted.

For her, nurses were already overloaded and the country ended up entering the pandemic "lame, on crutches".

The head nurse stressed that the organisation of vaccination that is in the hands of nurses "is fantastic", stating that the problems encountered are specific and have "more to do with the computer records, with the scheduling of the portal" and with the communication between "the various computer systems".

"Otherwise, things have been going very well and people's acceptance of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been very good," she noted.