Algarve Mayor moves in to calm health controversy

After weeks of inflammatory stories about the Algarve’s struggling public health service – and a swathe of personal slurs against hospital administrator Pedro Nunes – local Mayor Francisco Amaral has moved in to calm troubled waters.
A former doctor himself, the Mayor of Castro Marim (PSD) has told Público newspaper that running Faro Hospital – “the largest concern that there is in the Algarve” – is a “headache” on its own.
Add to it the management of the region’s other hospitals (Portimão and Lagos) and the situation becomes “impossible”.
Amaral’s comments are the first public shows of support for hospital boss Pedro Nunes who has suffered endless criticism over the last few weeks from doctors, left-wing politicians and even patients.
“However competent an administration is, it cannot resolve these matters without difficulties,” said Amaral, suggesting that one way round the ongoing troubles would be to try and encourage retired specialists back to work.
“The Algarve is an unprotected area with a lack of specialist doctors, and there should be greater effort from central government to fill these vacancies. There should be a government directive enabling specialists who have retired from the service to return. Another way would be to hire thousands of surgeons and consultants,” suggested Amaral.
But however the region’s problems are dealt with, he stressed that they should be “resolved in a climate of peace”, without the “emotional” protests that have been ongoing from both doctors en-masse “warning of the degradation of services in the Algarve”, and others – including Nunes himself, who made an unfortunate remark about some of his medical colleagues being “donkeys”, which will take time to live down.
As the national doctors’ association (Ordem dos Médicos) visited the Algarve last week and called for “respect, consideration, truth and transparency”, it would at last appear that calm is on its way back to the beleaguered public health system.
Dr Nunes predicted almost two weeks ago that his critics would “end up getting tired”, and it certainly looks as though he was right.
Even the hunger-striker who hit the headlines last week, declaring he would sit outside Faro Hospital “for as long as 20 days” in a bid to get €6,000 in unpaid wages, has picked up his table and chair and returned home.
Consultant psychiatrist Pedro Larisma told the Resident at the weekend that he is “confident” his financial discrepancies will soon be dealt with, and no longer feels the need to protest.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]