“I am 73 years old and fortunately my head is not yet senile and, therefore, I am offering my 47 years of know-how from the National Health Service to be able, if you want, to collaborate and explain how it is with the commitment that this is done”, he said in an interview with the Lusa agency, regarding the 30th anniversary of the first liver transplant in Portugal, marked today.
The expert argued that modernization and innovation are essential to retain professionals, noting, however, that the salaries of doctors and nurses are not adequate.
“But if we are going to think that it is only through money that we will be able to compete with the [medicina] this is impossible”, because the SNS cannot pay what they pay to renowned specialists, “but it is possible to improve a lot”, he defended.
Eduardo Barroso was part of the team led by surgeon João Pena, who performed the first liver transplant on September 23, 1992 at the Curry Cabral Hospital, in Lisbon, and later, in 2005, created the Hepato-Bilio-Pancreatic and Transplantation, one of the largest transplant centers in Europe.
For the surgeon, who directed the center until its reform in 2018, the SNS should be organized into reference centers, a model he has defended for 30 years and has been “a little” stopped due to the pandemic.
“Put your eyes on what was done at Curry Cabral” and apply it to other areas, he appealed, recalling the struggle for the creation of the center that always had the support of the hospital administrations to achieve the conditions to function.
“That’s why today there are unique conditions in Curry Cabral to be able to treat complex patients in this area”, he said, underlining: “Access is total, universal and free. We are very proud of that.”
It is for this organizational model, which allows “patients who should not die” and patients to have confidence, that Eduardo Barroso has been fighting for 30 years.
In his view, “it is a total absurdity” for a patient who has pancreatic cancer and lives in the Algarve or Santarém to be operated on in local hospitals that “do not have the conditions or critical mass to treat these diseases”.
“The patient is very happy to be operated on in his land, but in his land there may not be conditions to do it”, he said, stressing that “there are very complex diseases and very difficult to treat” that must be monitored in reference centers for create “critical mass”, be able to have casuistry and be able to investigate.
The doctor explained that, in the center created at the Curry Cabral Hospital, which is part of the Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, “surgeons were trained with great quality”, because they had hundreds of patients to treat.
“Being operated on the liver, on the pancreas in Curry Cabral, is to have the guarantee that the surgeons are experienced (…). They are true aces at doing what they know how to do. Now, if you ask them to have esophageal or breast surgery, they don’t know how to do it. Therefore, we have to send it to other centers” that perform these surgeries, he stressed.
Asked if the executive direction of the SNS, created within the scope of the SNS Statute, is an asset for a network organization, he said it is fundamental, but insisted that it is necessary to listen to people who have experience in these areas.
“If you don’t want to hear my opinion, don’t listen, I have a lot to dedicate myself to. Now, at least, see what we did, what was created within the National Health Service, see what the Hepato-Bilio-Pancreatic and Transplantation Center is”, said the specialist, who is now at the Champalimaud Foundation.