Dear Editor,

I read Skip Bandele’s article (‘Alphabet soup’ in Algarve Resident, April 5, 2018 edition) with great interest and even greater envy.

I had exactly the same situation. A mark on my arm that wouldn’t heal or go away. I took the same steps as him and made my way to the Olhão Centro de Saúde. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarity ends. I had to consult with a different doctor as my GP was ill (they were down to two doctors out of the usual six).

He looked at my arm from across the desk, then looked at me and said there are no dermatologists in the Algarve…then silence! I eventually broke said silence by asking if I was supposed to just go away and maybe die of cancer! He then suggested that I go to one of the private hospitals.

Well, having paid out €13,000 for a back operation “because there was no one at Faro who could see me”, then paying out €3,000 for my cataracts to be removed as the waiting list to see a doctor was around a year, I pointed out that there was no more money left!

After some minutes of thinking, the doctor asked if I would be willing to go to Lisbon. I was, so he sent a referral email to a Lisbon hospital. That was in January and, unsurprisingly, I still haven’t heard anything at all from them.

Being concerned for my health, I have “gone private “ and had the offending legion treated but at a cost of €717!

So, your correspondent Skip really was well treated.

We are supposed to have reciprocal healthcare here but even with the NHS in crisis, it just doesn’t equate.

My sympathies are with the people in towns like Olhão where they can’t scrape together the money to pay for healthcare when the system lets them down.

I am told that Lisbon doctors are being tempted to the Algarve with the offer of incentive payments and free housing. I hope one of these doctors turns out to be the dermatologist in the Algarve.

Helen Denman
By email

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