With the health problems of the Algarve known only too well, the truth is that the rest of the country is no better off.
Today (Monday), tabloid Correio da Manhã reports that patient care is at risk “in several hospitals” due to situations of “financial rupture”.
Debts “just in medical material and medication” exceed a billion euros.
“The conclusion comes from nearly all the Management and Accounts reports of 2016”, adds the paper, stressing that auditors have warned losses reveal “a material uncertainty relating to the capacity of these entities to be able to continue their activities”.
Hospitals in question are some of the country’s best: Porto’s Hospital de São João, Lisbon’s S. Francisco Xavier, Egas Moniz and Santa Cruz, Curry Cabral, Maternidade Alfredo da Costa, Santa Marta, São José, St. António dos Capuchos and Dona Estefânia.
Explains the paper, the SNS (national health service) close the first quarter of 2017 €100 million in the red – a €7.8 million increase of figures for the same period last year.
“The increase in expenses owes itself in the main to spending on people and supplies”.
In September last year, the government “froze investment” in health, and “imposed limitations on renewing the stock of medication”.
Thus, certain patients this year have already noticed that meds they have been prescribed are “sold out” nationally.
While health minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes has said he is “confident” of more money coming through in 2018, the situation remains critical.
And the knock-on effect for suppliers can mean the difference between ‘life and death’ of their respective companies.
In April, for example, João Gonçalves, president of Apormed (the association of Portuguese medical supply companies) told parliament that “there are hospitals that take two years to pay their bills”.
Last month Económico alluded to the crisis saying hospital debts to pharmaceutical companies had leapt 18.5%, with a 27.8% increase in the number of bills unpaid after the statutory 90-day limit.
For now, doctors and nurses unions remain locked in various issues with State powers-that-be, with the threat of yet another doctors’ strike looming towards the end of the summer.