Calls to reopen hospital

Angry unions and local authorities have demanded that Lagos Hospital’s operating theatres reopen. And the co-ordinator of the União dos Sindicatos do Algarve (USAL – the Algarve Trade Unions’ Union), António Goulart, has told the government that the two recent deaths after anaesthetics were administered in Lagos Hospital should not serve as a pretext to shut the hospital’s surgical department.

The operating theatres shut in the last days of March after a man and then a woman went into cardiac arrest within a few hours of each other after receiving anaesthetics. Both died shortly afterwards. The anaesthetist responsible for both cases was suspended, along with the Clinical Director of the hospital, pending an official inquiry, and all surgery in Lagos Hospital was cancelled.

Lagos Municipal Assembly and the Municipal Health Commission have also echoed this demand for the hospital to be reopened. In addition, they said they were still waiting for a central government response to a letter they had addressed to Health Minister Luís Filipe Pereira on April 15. A spokesman from the Health Commission claims that the results from the preliminary inquiry into the two patient deaths indicate there were “no problems with the technical efficiency and safety of the installations concerned” and so are calling for the hospital theatres to reopen within the week.

Speaking during May Day celebrations in Faro, Goulart said he suspected “private groups” had an agenda to shut the hospital permanently and commented that, “irrespective of any investigations into the deaths in Lagos Hospital, it is pointless using this as an opportunity to keep the hospital closed.” Goulart said that, if the hospital remained shut, the government would meet with entrenched opposition from the CGTP (The Confederation of General Workers Union), as well as from health unions and patients who have had their surgery cancelled.

We must wait

Ana Margarida Pereira, a spokeswoman at the Ministry of Health in Lisbon, said a decision on Lagos Hospital would be made shortly. “I understand that people are angry, but we should wait for the results of the inspections, which will come through at the end of next week. Then a final decision about reopening the operating theatres can be made. I really can’t say anything more.”