Algarve’s faulty ventilators: Bureaucratic battle stalls €1.3 million refund request

A bureaucratic battle is underway over who should request a €1.3 million refund for the 30 faulty ventilators that were purchased in April and were meant to be used at the Algarve’s public hospitals.

The ventilators have “never worked” and were quickly deemed “not reliable enough to be used on humans”.

But what should have be a simple process of requesting a refund has turned into a fight over who has the authority to do so.

The faulty ventilators were purchased by the Algarve Biomedical Centre (ABC) with money donated by the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL). They were then donated to the Algarve University Hospital Board (CHUA).

The issue is that none of these entities believes it is their responsibility to request a refund.

Paulo Neves, spokesperson for CHUA’s administration board, says ABC should request the refund as it was the entity in charge of buying the equipment.

“I don’t see how CHUA, which doesn’t have the receipt and doesn’t know the manufacturer or the intermediary, is going to pursue someone we didn’t pay, it doesn’t make sense,” he told Lusa news agency.

ABC president Nuno Marques has a completely different viewpoint.

“CHUA is the legitimate owner of the equipment,” he said, adding that ABC does not have the “legal legitimacy to interfere”.

Marques claimed that the receipt is in the hands of CHUA, which it defends became the legitimate owner of the ventilators from the moment it accepted them. He also said ABC offered its support and that all that it knows is that the manufacturer’s technicians travelled to Portugal to try to fix the ventilators.

Meanwhile, AMAL boss António Pina has revealed that a commission is due to be created with a “member of each entity” in order to resolve the issue once and for all.

The only thing he knows for certain is that AMAL won’t be the entity to ask for the refund.

“It will be one of the two (ABC or CHUA). It is a legal matter and we have to be sure,” he said.

Pina added that the goal is to use the €1.3 million refund to “cover other CHUA needs”.