The Executive Board of the National Health Service (SNS) will discuss the reorganization of the network of pediatric emergencies in the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon in a meeting, next week, with all the entities involved, including those responsible for the 12 hospitals in question, at a time in which the lack of pediatricians has led to occasional closures of some of these services. Until then, guaranteed the Minister of Health, the pediatric emergencies of the hospitals in the metropolitan area of the capital will continue to function as before.
the minister Manuel Pizarro responded in this way to the two union organizations of doctors who this Monday said that the pediatric emergencies at the hospitals in Loures and Barreiro will close at night and at the weekend starting next Wednesday, March 1 . A new model for organizing the pediatric emergency network that guarantees “quality and safety” will “be ready in the next few days”, he said, assuring that the services will continue to operate until a decision is made.
Manuel Pizarro made a parallel with the metropolitan urgency of pediatrics in Porto, which has existed for “almost 20 years”. “During the day, it works in the two hospitals, in the Hospital de Santo António, in the Centro Materno-Infantil and in the Hospital de São João, and then, during the night, the pediatric emergency is concentrated in the Hospital de São João”, he explained, sustaining that this model “responds to demand”.
Without explaining what is at stake, the Executive Board of the SNS mentions, in writing, that “different reorganization scenarios” of the network composed of the 12 hospitals with pediatric services in the Lisbon metropolitan area are being discussed and only reveals that, before of the meeting scheduled for next week, a decision will not be taken on “the model that best defends users”.
In addition to representatives of the 12 pediatric services, the LVT Regional Health Administration, the National Institute of Medical Emergencies (INEM), the SNS24 line, the operational technical unit and the executive committee appointed to study the reorganization of the network will participate in the meeting. of pediatric emergencies, specifies.
Underlining that “professionals” will be involved, he says that under analysis are “clinical options that guarantee predictability, safety, quality, access and proximity” with the aim of ensuring “territorial cohesion and equity in the provision of health response, taking as a perspective the approach used in this field in European countries”. The assessment that is being “carried out by DE-SNS and the scenarios that are being considered, in the dimensions of safety, quality, access, proximity and predictability, will apply to the entire metropolitan area of Lisbon and the decision will not be taken before next week’s general meeting”.
As for the information provided by the unions, he replied that he was unaware of it. But he admits that there are hospitals that “have had chronic shortages [de pediatras] and they have already closed the SU on time [serviço de urgência] pediatric sector, such as Hospital de Setúbal, and others with new problems, such as Hospital Beatriz Ângelo [Loures]”.
Unions criticize minister
The secretary general of the Independent Doctors’ Union, Jorge Roque da Cunha, refuted the Minister of Health’s statements and reiterated that the pediatric emergency department at the Loures hospital will be closed at night and at the weekend from this Wednesday. fair, information transmitted to him by the clinical management, after the announcement of the departure of six pediatricians, five for private hospitals and one for the public hospital D. Estefânia.
Roque da Cunha added that last Thursday there was “an emergency meeting” at Hospital do Barreiro to communicate that the pediatric emergency would close “on a rotating basis with the hospitals of Setúbal and Garcia de Orta [Almada]”, which have already closed due to lack of pediatricians. “You can talk about reorganization, but what will happen are closures, which is unacceptable”, he concluded.
The metropolitan urgency of pediatrics in Greater Porto cannot be compared with the region of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, because “many more kilometers” are at stake there, contested the president of the National Federation of Doctors, Joana Bordalo e Sá, warning that the access and the speed with which children and adolescents are treated will probably be compromised with the concentration of emergencies in one pole, “whatever it may be”.
Questioned by PÚBLICO, Centro Hospitalar do Barreiro-Montijo asserts that, with the reorganization being studied between the Executive Board of the SNS and the hospitals involved, there are still no decisions or “set dates”. The Beatriz Ângelo hospital (Loures) responds that “there are meetings to discuss the matter”, without confirming or denying the information provided by the medical unions.
Hospital de Loures provided more than 54,000 emergency pediatric appointments in 2022, while Hospital de Barreiro handled almost 40,000.