national health service crisis - Portimão Hospital
Portimão Hospital Photo: OPEN MEDIA GROUP

Algarve Central Hospital to finally move forward?

Parliament approves proposal to begin construction proceedings

There could finally be some light at the end of the tunnel for the construction of the Algarve Central Hospital, which has been in the pipeline for years but has yet to move forward.

Portugal’s Parliament has unanimously approved a PS proposal to begin proceedings to build and equip the hospital, viewed by many as essential to providing quality public health services to the region’s population.

The approved proposal says the government will carry out the proceedings until the end of September 2022, choosing whichever contractual model is “quickest” to ensure the project moves forward.

While the proposal says that the government must ensure the “viability and economic and financial sustainability” of the project, it must also consider the “urgency” of how important it is to the “quality of (medical) assistance provided to the population of the region”.

The hospital was announced in 2006 by the Socialist government of José Sócrates, although the beginnings of the project date back to 2002 during Durão Barroso’s government. The plan involved building the new hospital at Parque das Cidades, between Loulé and Faro and near the Algarve Stadium, and was placed second on a national list of priorities for new hospitals.

A public-private partnership (PPP) was launched but eventually suspended in 2011 when the PSD-led Pedro Passos Coelho government took charge, claiming that there was not enough money to build the hospital.

Since then, the project has remained on the backburner. In 2016, the Secretary of State for Health at the time even admitted that the hospital was no longer a priority.

Reports TSF radio, PS guarantees it has been studying since 2019 whether the PPP deal can be resumed.

“If it can, then it should move forward. If it cannot for any reason, then the government must find another way,” said PS MP Luis Graça.

“We cannot and do not want to keep waiting for a hospital which is absolutely central for the region,” he added.

António Pina, mayor of Olhão and president of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL), called for the construction of the hospital last year, and AMAL even placed the project among its 33 priority projects in its Economic Recovery Plan for the Algarve.

By Michael Bruxo
michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com