The Algarve still needs 38 general practitioners to make up the required ratio of patients to doctors, according to a human resources report from the national health ministry.
According to the report, the region requires 308 doctors, which would mean one doctor per 1,600 people but there are currently only 270, giving a ratio of 1,800 inhabitants per doctor.
The situation is also expected to worsen during the Easter holidays as the region’s population is set to triple with tourists, putting a greater strain on the region’s health service.
Rui Lourenço, President of the regional health service (ARS), said: “The lack of doctors is due to the great increase in population, which has reached 15 per cent growth in recent years, and because of a lack of qualified professionals.”
He also added that many doctors are close to retiring or opting for early retirement.
One way that the region is tackling the lack of professionals is by the University of the Algarve in Faro opening a new course for graduates to train as doctors.
This course is due to start later this year and has received more than 1,000 applications.
The most affected areas are those that have seen the greatest increase in population, namely between Olhão and Albufeira and Lagoa to Lagos.
Rui Lourenço said that 31 doctors are currently in training and 10 will finish their training by the end of the year to come and work in regional health centres.
The Algarve is also in need of 50 more nurses according to the regional health service, which are due to be employed gradually.
Do you have a view on this story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org