The project to build the Algarve’s long-promised Central Hospital – which has been stuck in political limbo for over a decade and is viewed as essential to attract more doctors and health professionals to the region – may finally move forward in 2021.
Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters in Albufeira on Thursday that she “certainly hopes so” and that planning should start as soon as possible.
“What I would like is for us (the government) to begin working to either begin 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 during a ceremony to pay tribute to the late Manuel dos Santos Serra, a doctor who died in 2018 and was one of the people responsible for the opening of Albufeira’s health centre.
But this doesn’t mean the hospital will begin to be built in 2021, she said, but that the government will carry out “studies, ensure investments and make decisions about the services that will be provided”.
The Algarve population will likely take the news with a pinch of salt – this is not the first time that a government minister has made promises about this project.
The hospital was announced in 2006 by the socialist government of José Sócrates. It was due to be built at Parque das Cidades, between Loulé and Faro, and was placed second on a national list of priorities for new hospitals. But over time, the project was ‘forgotten’ by successive governments. In 2016, the Secretary of State for Health even admitted that the hospital was no longer a priority.
In 2018, doctors’ union Sindicato Independente dos Médicos (SIM) called for the urgent construction of the Central Hospital claiming that it would be a way of solving the “chronic overcrowding” particularly at Faro Hospital (click here).
Last March, the government said in response to Bloco de Esquerda (BE) that it was “doing everything it could” to move forward with the construction of the Algarve’s Central Hospital but that there was still no deadline for the project to be completed (click here).
Months later, the ruling Socialist Party (PS) adopted a more proactive stance, naming the construction of the hospital one of its priorities for the next four years if it won the legislative elections (click here) – which it did.
The pre-election promise was made by Algarve MP Jamila Madeira, who led the party’s Faro candidate list.
“We need to accept that a Central Hospital will help doctors remain and establish themselves in the region,” she said.
Meantime, a demonstration is to be held outside Faro Hospital on Saturday, February 15 at 11am to “demand the construction of the Algarve’s Central Hospital” (click here).
“No one believes this government’s intentions,” says opposition MP
Cristóvão Norte, an MP for opposition party PSD, has reacted with disbelief to the minister’s promises about the Central Hospital and said that “no one believes this government’s intentions”.
“The minister announced that in 2021 she would launch studies into the construction of the new hospital. This is proof that there will be no new hospital until 2023 and that it is not included in the government’s new hospitals programme or the 2020 State Budget proposal,” he said.
Norte added that “five new hospitals are expected to be built until the end of the (government’s) term, and the Algarve – which a technical study has found to be the second priority – is not included,” despite the region’s chronic shortage in human resources.