Algarve health authority denies claims of “New Year’s chaos” at health services

The Algarve health authority (ARS) has denied claims that the region’s public health services were “chaotic” just before New Year’s, with some people believed to have waited over 20 hours to be seen by a doctor or nurse at Faro’s A&E department (click here).

A source from ARS told the Resident that the controversial statements made by the PSD political party and the Ordem dos Enfermeiros, Portugal’s official body of nurses, “were highly politicised” and painted an inaccurate picture of the region’s health services.

The source admitted that while there was an “abnormal peak” in the number of patients at Faro’s emergency department on December 29 and 30, which caused waiting times to be longer than usual, the situation was “normalised” by New Year’s Eve.

“There was no kind of situation of chaos at the emergency departments of CHUA (the Algarve’s public hospitals),” said ARS spokesperson Malin Löfgren.

The health authority has also advised patients to visit their local health centres, which have received extended opening hours, at a time when “a peak in cases of the flu” is expected.

The story made headlines after PSD MP Cristóvão Norte and the Ordem dos Enfermeiros lambasted the regional health services, saying they were working with “half of the necessary resources”.

Norte described the situation as “intolerable”.

“We have over one million people in the Algarve (during the festive period) and access to healthcare is more limited than when we have a population of 400,000,” said the MP for the social-democrat party PSD.

“It is unthinkable that someone who is described as in ‘very urgent’ need of healthcare has to wait six hours when the patient should not wait longer than 10 minutes. It is the total collapse of these services,” he said.

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