Nurses welcome plans to hire 450 staff but criticise ‘reactive’ government

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 10-01-2019 10:49:00 · 0 Comments
Nurses welcome plans to hire 450 staff but criticise ‘reactive’ government

The head of Portugal’s Nurses Register has welcomed plans to hire 450 nurses for public hospitals, despite saying that the number was insufficient and that it is a “panic move” by the government in response to the “chaotic situation” in emergency rooms.

In a statement released this past weekend, the Ministry of Health announced that 450 nurses and 400 operational assistants would be hired for hospitals under the National Health Service (SNS).
The measure “is good, obviously,” said, Ana Rita Cavaco, the head of the Nurses Register, in comments to Lusa News Agency, although she added: “But let’s not forget that nurses were lacking only because of the issue of the move to thirty-five hours a week from 40, plus the seven hundred nurses who it had been agreed in October between the minister of health, Adalberto Campos Fernandes and the minister of finance, would be hired, and who were not.”
In addition to this commitment, Cavaco said, Portugal “has the lowest ratios” of nurses among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: 4.2 per 1,000 inhabitants, against an OECD average of 9.3.
According to Cavaco, the hiring was triggered by the “chaotic situation” that has emerged in accident and emergency departments in the country’s public hospitals this flu season.
She gave the example of hospitals in Barreiro and Setúbal, south of Lisbon, as well as “many hospitals” in the north, noting that the Garcia da Orta Hospital in Almada for several days declined to receive patients from ambulance services because it was so overrun.

“The problem is that, as always, this [hiring] is being done in the middle of the flu season, the cold weather,” she said. “And this situation obliges hospitals to hire very rapidly. They have recruitment grants that have to be used in one or two days, and many of the nurses that apply are abroad”.
She noted some 15,000 of Portugal’s nurses have emigrated.
The announcement made by the office of Portugal’s Health Minister Marta Temido, states that “hospitals will immediately initiate procedures necessary to conclude the contract, in what constitutes the first reinforcement of human resources for 2019”.
It adds that the joint authorisation by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance “provides for the hiring of these professionals indefinitely, insofar as they satisfy permanent service needs”.
At the same time, it states, these professionals will respond, “simultaneously, to seasonal needs, that is, associated with the winter period and the emergence of flu-like and respiratory syndromes”.
This comes after Portugal’s nursing union last week cancelled strike action to negotiate with the government. Portugal’s Nurses Unions Association (ASPE) called off the first of two bouts of extended strike action planned to start this month, to “allow space for negotiations with the government”. The action had been called for between this Monday 7 January and 20 February, and aims to replicate the strikes being staged by Portugal’s operating room nurses.
Both met with the government last Thursday. A second bout of action is still on the cards for between 14 January and 28 February.


Be the first to comment on this article
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.