A total of 17 emergency admissions doctors working in the Algarve's public hospitals are head-to-head with the regional hospital management, headed by Dr Pedro Nunes, over unilateral changes to working practices.
The tug-of-war between management and the 17 doctors in charge of emergency admissions is over a new set of regulations imposed by management which allows nursing staff the power to decide whether a patient should or should not be transferred to another unit, the authorisation to call up ambulances and other aspects of patient care usually covered by a qualified doctor.
In response to the new regulations, introduced by hospital boss Dr Nunes, the team of 17 doctors has decided to quit en masse unless management revert to the previous system where doctors were in charge of such aspects of patient care, not nurses.
The threat is now official and is contained in a formal petition delivered to management.
Commenting that "This makes no sense. At a time when the hospital should be a calm environment and preparing for another flood of people during the summer, when there is always shortage of doctors, there now is a conflict that will destabilise staff, "says the regional nursing union leader João Dias.
Dr Nunes has time to sort this one out before the summer season boosts the numbers using the Algarve’s hospitals.
This is not the first conflict Nunes has faced and will not be the last but his position always has been endorsed by the Health Minister despite deep unpopularity amongst doctors and nurses working under his particular brand of management.
Nunes' suggestion that the new rules need not be adhered to is a welcome departure from his normal brusque management style.