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Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 10:38 UK

Brazil health cameras irk staff

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

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The mayor of a Brazilian town has provoked complaints after he installed cameras in a health centre to monitor the quality of service to the public.

The cameras send images and sound from the reception and a pharmacy directly to the offices of the mayor of Foz do Iguacu and other senior officials.

He said it was to improve efficiency, and he wanted to extend the scheme to 28 other sites.

But some staff and residents said the project is a breach of patient privacy.

Employees of the health centre have signed a petition complaining about the intense level of scrutiny, while opinion among patients appears to be divided.

However, Mayor Paulo MacDonald told Brazil's TV Globo he wanted to see the scheme extended to all 28 local health centres, to help prevent problems encountered in the past.

"We have received many complaints about poor service, sometimes rudeness by the public with staff, sometimes about people waiting while members of staff were doing less important things," he said.

But the local health department said that to monitor the work of medical professionals, and to do this in an area where patients can be gravely ill, sometimes with psychiatric problems, was an invasion of privacy and illegal.

It has called on the mayor to remove the equipment immediately and said it may pursue legal action as well.



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