This afternoon, SITEU - the Independent Union of All Nurses will take to some of the main beaches of the Algarve, with the nurses of the Hospital de Faro asking to be excused from responsibility due to the lack of working conditions and staff shortages.
In a statement, the union say that a plane with a banner "Força Enfermeiros de Faro Semper Juntos" (nurses of Faro stand strongly together) will travel along the beaches of Portimão, Albufeira and Loulé to alert holidaymakers to "the serious situation currently experienced" in the emergency department of Faro Hospital.
Gorete Pimentel, chairman of the SITEU board, wants to take advantage of "the presence of thousands of tourists in the Algarve to denounce the lack of working conditions at Hospital de Faro. Our colleagues are working non-stop, in very difficult conditions, at a time of year which exponentially increases the population in the Algarve. We want those on holiday to know about the chaotic situation in the emergency room of Hospital de Faro, the main health unit in the region."
In a letter sent to the administration of the Hospital de Faro, 65 nurses from the emergency department asked to be excused from responsibility due to the lack of working conditions. The nurses say that there are patients accumulated in the corridors on stretchers and there is a shortage of nurses, in a situation that they say has been "known for a long time" by the Faro Hospital directors and the Ministry of Health.
The president of SITEU states that "there is a chronic shortage of nurses in the National Health Service, which the pandemic has drastically aggravated. The safe allocation of nurses is not a union whim, it is the guarantee of quality and safety for patients in our work as situations such as the one currently at Hospital de Faro are recurrent throughout the NHS. The risks to the health of users are real. We cannot continue to avert our eyes and count on luck. SITEU has been demanding for a long time that the Government helps all health units in the country to guarantee the safe supply of nurses. The answer is slow in arriving".
Gorete Pimentel emphasises that "asking an excuse from responsibility is one of the most difficult decisions for those who practice nursing. It means admitting a high probability of error on the part of nurses and damage to the patient, in this case at the Hospital de Faro, due to the heavy workload. We are totally in solidarity with our colleagues who asked to be excused from responsibility, and it is absolutely regrettable that these 65 nurses have been victims of bullying by the direction of the Hospital de Faro".
According to SITEU, 1200 nurses have emigrated from Portugal this year alone, therefore it is essential for Portugal to increase the number of nurses in the NHS for patient safety, both at Hospital de Faro and in other health units across the country.