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Bureaucratic muddle leaves Alcoutim without a doctor

Alcoutim is in despair over bureaucracy preventing it from hiring a doctor for the local health centre.

The small riverside town has been “doctor-less” since January. And even though the council has offered to pay for a doctor itself, the ARS health authority will not let it, claiming it is its responsibility.

For now, a doctor based 30 kms away- and serving the rural populations of Martim Longo and Vaqueiros – is the best ARS can offer .

Alcoutim’s problems began when a series of “unfortunate events” left it without its statutory doctors in October 2015.

A new one was quickly hired (by ARS Algarve) but her contract was only until the end of 2015.

Thus, in January, ARS Algarve became unable to continue paying her, and the health centre was once again left in the lurch.

Desperate for a quick solution, the council offered to pay the doctor’s salary, a proposal it says was accepted at first but later refused “at the last minute” by the group of Eastern Algarve health centres ACES Sotavento.

ARS Algarve’s reasoning was not clear. The authority simply stressed that Alcoutim “must wait for a solution to come from ARS Algarve”.

This has acted as the last straw for the municipality, which this week decided to go on the warpath.

“No one in their right mind can understand why this is dragging on for so long and the citizens of Alcoutim will not accept the crisis as an excuse for everything,” the council said in a press release.

The Resident is attempting to get a comment from ARS Algarve which refuses to answer questions by phone. As soon as we receive an answer to our email query we will update the story.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com