Algarve at risk of new A&E crisis as Open Letter warns of “total collapse” of Portugal’s State health service

The Algarve is at risk of another A& E crisis through October due to lack of doctors to cover units through the night.

This latest potential drama affects principally pediatric A&E.

CHUA, the Algarve university hospital board, guarantees it is “working on a solution to the problem” – but this is a perennial failing, following nurses in the region already warning that they are so overworked they can no longer be held ‘responsible’ for any failings (click here).

Into the mix comes an Open Letter from one of contemporary medicine’s most respected ‘icons’.

Now aged 91, António Gentil Martins is still fighting for “a better world” – one in which medical treatment is available for people irrespective of their station in life.

A former president of the General Medical Council (Ordem dos Médicos) – and pioneer when it comes to surgical techniques in the separation of Siamese twins – he has taken the opportunity of today’s municipal elections to address candidates to the city council of Lisbon over the dire need for action.

Today’s SNS health system is increasingly heading for “total collapse in a division between those that have some possessions and use the private system and those that can only rely on Services of the State”.

People with financial wherewithal “are usually treated in time, and on time” (in the private sector), while those that don’t “wait months and years for consultations and treatment” provided by the State.

“We have always defended an SNS (national health service) with the inalienable right to freedom of choice for doctors and institutions, based on mandatory national health insurance in which general practice is the basis of the system, and without forgetting the indispensable role of public health work”, he insists.

Gentil Martins’ entreaties for improvements to the public health service have been coming here and there for years, but the ‘model’ has not changed; the structural problems have remained and discontent within the public sector is once again running high (click here).

Whether this latest Open Letter will change anything or not, the writing does appear to be on the wall: the current system needs to be rethought.

Back in February this year, Gentil Martins accused the government of incompetence for failing to respond to the offer of retired doctors to come back onto the frontline to pick up health care that was being missed due to tunnel focus on the pandemic.

As he explained to TVI 24 (image above) “there is a host of the most serious pathologies, namely cancers, that are losing opportunities to be cured, because everything is concentrated on Covid…”

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