Portimão Hospital Photo: OPEN MEDIA GROUP

Algarve public health services in disarray

Nurses to symbolically deliver uniforms to Portimão Hospital as PSD MPs lambast region’s doctor shortage

The Algarve’s chronic public health service issues are being brought into the limelight yet again as nurses continue their fight for the right to career progression and a serious doctor shortage continues to affect access to healthcare.

Since the start of April, nurses have been organising ‘Indignation Thursdays’, which have seen them holding protests outside the state-run hospitals in Portimão and Faro.

This Thursday (April 21), the nurses plan to symbolically hand over their uniforms at Portimão Hospital, at around 10am, in hopes of calling attention to their plight.

They have criticised what they call the “ungratefulness” shown by the Algarve University Hospital Centre (CHUA), the Ministry of Health and the Portuguese Government when it comes to their fight for better salaries and recognition for years of hard work and service, the Portuguese Nurses Union (SEP) says in a statement.

The union adds that the possibility of a strike is being considered as the “administrations of CHUA and ARS (regional health authority) continue to not provide an answer to the problems at stake”.

Meanwhile, the Algarve’s PSD MPs Luís Gomes, Ofélia Ramos and Rui Cristina have voiced their displeasure with the doctor shortage at CHUA and announced that they will request meetings with the CHUA administration board and ARS Algarve.

The announcement came after the closure of Portimão Hospital’s maternity ward between April 14 and 18.

“For the second time this month, the maternity was closed (between 2pm on April 14 and 9am on April 18) due to a lack of paediatricians, forcing pregnant women to travel to Faro,” the MPs said.

“The lack of human resources was also felt in terms of hospitalisations which were equally provided by Faro Hospital,” added the MPs, who declared the Algarve cannot “remain hostage of a health policy that has long forgotten the region”.

The shortage of paediatricians and the closure of the maternity ward, especially in Portimão, are recurring situations, they say, which “jeopardise medical assistance for children as well as pregnant women” who are forced to travel dozens of kilometres to Faro.

Apart from the meetings they will request, the MPs are also pondering questioning the government about its proposals to solve the Algarve’s issues.

“A reinforcement of technical and human resources at CHUA is urgent, and the construction of the Algarve’s Central Hospital, which the government has promised and postponed, has become even more pressing,” the MPs say.

By Michael Bruxo
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