Faro doctors condemn attempts to force doctors to perform emergency procedures

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In a letter sent to various organizations, pediatric interns at Faro Hospital have denounced the “attempts at coercion” to which they are subjected to perform emergency procedures in the Algarve, even when they are training outside the region.

“The pediatric interns at Faro Hospital hereby condemn this attempt at coercion and make it clear that the shortage of pediatricians in the Algarve region cannot, and will never be able to, be made up by interns, given that they are in training,” according to the letter to which the Lusa news agency had access.

Fourteen interns undergoing specific training in pediatrics at the Faro unit of the University Hospital of the Algarve (CHUA) have signed a missive that has been sent to the Executive Committee of the National Health Service (SNS), the President of the Medical Association and the CHUA Board of Directors, among other entities.

These doctors, who are still in the post-graduate training period leading to the specialty, say they have been “informed through unofficial channels” that it has been proposed that 4th and 5th year interns carry out their emergency internships (at least 12 hours/week) at the CHUA, regardless of their place of training.

They go on to explain that 4th and 5th year interns “are for the most part doing internships in other hospitals, as the CHUA is not suitable for them”.

According to the memo, “some trainees are currently in Lisbon (300 km from Faro), Coimbra (450 km from Faro) or Porto (550 km from Faro)”, and assure us that such a move, if necessary, “would greatly disrupt the daily life and training of each of these trainees”.

Before taking this position, the 14 doctors contacted the Syndicat des médecins indépendants, which gave its opinion based on an information circular dated May 05, 2017, sanctioned by the Ordre des médecins.

“As part of the normal working period, intern doctors undergoing Specific Training who complete their internship in a Department other than the one in which they are placed must provide the 12 hours per week of emergency service as part of a team in the Department in which they complete their internship, provided that the latter has an organized emergency service,” according to one of the paragraphs of this document.

Another regulation cited states that “trainee doctors are subject to the work organization of the entity responsible for the service or establishment in charge of training administration, and their working hours must be established and scheduled in accordance with the work regime of the special medical career and the activities and objectives of the respective training programs”.

The 5th-year interns also claim that they “have been pressured to take on the role of pediatrician and team leader in the pediatric emergency department, despite expressing their non-consent”.

“Interns are the future of the pediatric department and as such must be valued and protected so that they can dream of a future at CHUA. A future which, for the moment, seems uncertain”, the 14 interns state at the end of their letter.

The SNS is facing a shortage of doctors, which has led it to resort increasingly to these professionals still in training.

In the Algarve, paediatric services are often closed at weekends, with users having to travel to Faro for treatment.

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