Portuguese Nurses Calling For More Responsibility and Less Red Tape

The Portuguese healthcare system is in need of some care of its own, and who’s to say if the recently abysmal response rate of doctors comes from COVID cases, summer holidays, or technical difficulties, but does it really matter? Most patients in the system will tell you there is room for improvement and now the nurses who work within it are saying the same.

It might not shock you to learn that according to a recent poll on corruption in the EU, 48% of respondents in Portugal said that they relied on personal connections to obtain access to public services over the last year, which won’t be surprising if you’ve dealt with the frustration of unanswered emails to your doctor, direct phone lines ringing to no avail, or the constantly crashing MySNS app.  

Portugal’s Nurse’s Association, or Ordem dos Enfermeiros (OE), is calling for the Government to allocate a portion of the approximately 16.5 billion euros in grants and loans from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRR) to focus squarely on making the primary healthcare system in Portugal better, starting with expanding the role of nurses and opening more healthcare centers in which they can provide assistance, particularly when it comes to caring for the community and patients who require continuing care, according to Observador.

Aside from having a family doctor assigned to you and your family at your local Centro Saude, the nurses believe you should be assigned a family nurse as well and that their roles should be expanded to help alleviate the strains put on the system by the COVID pandemic in particular. 

In a letter detailing the above proposal to the Minister of Health, Marta Temido and the Deputy Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, the OE said, “This solution appears, in fact, as the most expeditious way to guarantee universal access to adequate, quality, and personalized healthcare for the entire population and, in particular, for people with chronic illnesses and dependents at home, who, at this moment, are in a situation of greater vulnerability.”

The OE went on to say that there are currently 3,000 nurses ready to work who are willing to take on more responsibility. With the overwhelming number of requests for help arranging COVID vaccinations and questions on managing any side effects, the current number of nurses working in the system is proving to be inadequate to assist Family Doctors, so it’s no surprise that the nurses are “absolutely convinced” that this new approach can “play a decisive role in recovery,” the publication writes.

The OE is requesting an audience with Temido and Sales to discuss these points further.

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