Health centres extend timetables as country braces itself for major flu epidemic

This winter’s ‘flu epidemic’ – already challenging state hospitals’ A&E departments – is set to peak in the next 15 days, warns health director general Francisco George. As a result health centres throughout the country are extending their opening hours.

In the Algarve, centres in Portimão, Silves, Olhão and Faro will be open every day of the week, including weekends, from early morning (8am Silves and Portimão, 9am Faro and Olhão) until 10pm at night.

Lagoa health centre will be open from Monday to Friday, from 2pm to 10pm, while other units are on standby to see whether or not their timetables will also be extended.

Deputy health director Graça Freitas has explained that the moves come as a result of the latest flu virus causing “more complications” than in previous years: pneumonia being one of the worst consequences.

According to the country’s ‘flu bulletin’, there have already been seven deaths attributed to the H3N2 flu virus, despite more people having been vaccinated this year, reports Correio da Manhã.

Of the people admitted to hospital with complications, 14 have had to be treated in intensive care.

In parts of the country, hospitals are seeing hundreds of people arriving with symptoms every day.

Meantime, in the Algarve, hospital chiefs are trying to recruit 46 new doctors to 24 specialities to try and make up the gaps in services that have seen so many recent complaints and prompted clinical directors just before Christmas to threaten mass resignations (click here).

Beleaguered hospital boss Joaquim Ramalho told journalists this week that “the filling of these positions will allow the resolution of some of the principal constraints” that are being felt in the region.

The recruitment drive is running until January 2, while new protests over healthcare failings in the Algarve’s three state hospitals have already been announced for the second week in January.

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