PORTUGAL- Marta Temido, the health minister for Portugal, has resigned after receiving harsh criticism for her decision to temporarily shut down emergency obstetric services.
The closure of the emergency services has forced pregnant patients to undergo dangerous hospital transfers.
Temido decided to leave her position because she “realized that she no longer had the conditions to remain in office” according to a statement from the Health Ministry.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a separate statement that he had accepted Temido’s resignation and congratulated her for her work, which included planning a successful COVID-19 immunization campaign.
Due to a shortage of doctors over the summer break, the government decided to shut down emergency obstetric services, especially on weekends.
Temido’s resignation was announced a few hours after news broke that a pregnant woman had passed away on Saturday after having a cardiac arrest while being transported by ambulance from Lisbon’s main hospital Santa Maria.
Santa Maria had no openings in its neonatology department, which led to the woman being transferred to another hospital in the city.
The health ministry’s lack of preparedness, particularly over the summer vacation time, was blamed by critics for the issues, which embarrassed the administration.
Temido’s actions have also come under fire from organizations that represent Portuguese physicians and nurses.
The woman’s death, according to the prime minister, was the “last straw” that caused Temido to resign.
This incident is not unique, though. Portugal has had a number of accidents in recent months as a result of the workforce shortage.
Temido was appointed health minister in October 2018, and surveys indicate that due to the effectiveness of the vaccine drive, she was among the most well-liked government officials in 2017.
Portugal has experienced a staffing shortfall in the medical field, particularly in the gynecology and obstetrics fields.
The health ministry has been charged with neglecting to prepare for the summertime staff deficit when many individuals take vacations.
In addition to criticizing the government’s policies, doctors and nurses have also voiced their displeasure with their working conditions and level of exhaustion.
Maternity wards are frequently crowded and there are lengthy delays because many natal units have closed.
Gustavo Tato Borges, the president of Portugal’s public health association said that he did not expect the minister’s resignation, and was “surprised” that she had stepped down while there are “acute problems” in the health sector.
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