The president of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL) has urged the government to finally move forward with the project to build the region’s long promised Central Hospital once the pandemic is over.
In a not-so-subtle hint about how the region has cared for patients from other parts of Portugal – with Portimão’s field hospital taking in dozens of patients from other regions -, António Pina said that the care shown must be reciprocal.
“The Algarve has known how to treat our patients and how to show solidarity to the country. I hope that when this is all over, the country will show solidarity to the Algarve and definitively confirm the construction of the new Central Hospital,” said Pina, who is also the mayor of Olhão, at the Algarve’s fortnightly press conference on the Covid-19 situation last Friday.
In January 2020, Health Minister Marta Temido said that she wanted the Central Hospital project to move forward in 2021.
“What I would like is for us (the government) to either start working on the project that already exists or review it. What we want is to come up with decisions that could be put into practice in 2021,” Temido said at the time in Albufeira.
However, it is extremely unlikely that the project will gain any sort of traction now that the pandemic has forced the country into another lockdown.
In fact, this would not be the first time the project has been stalled.
The hospital was announced in 2006 by the socialist government of José Sócrates. The plan involved building the new hospital at Parque das Cidades, between Loulé and Faro and near the Algarve Stadium, and was placed second on a national list of priorities for new hospitals.
But the truth is that several governments since then have put the project on the backburner. In 2016, the Secretary of State for Health at the time even admitted that the hospital was no longer a priority.
However, many have defended that the hospital could be a game-changer for the quality of the region’s public health services.
In 2018, doctors’ union Sindicato Independente dos Médicos (SIM) called for the urgent construction of the hospital claiming that it would be a way of solving the “chronic overcrowding” particularly at Faro Hospital.