By INÊS LOPES & NELSON RODRIGUES [email protected]
Motion||Rumours that Portimão Barlavento Hospital and Faro Hospital would be sharing the same administration and board of directors, in a merger that would put healthcare provision in the western Algarve at risk, have not been confirmed by the region’s health authority.
Recent press reports that ARS Algarve, the regional health authority, had recommended to the Ministry of Health that the two main public hospitals should merge in order to cut costs have raised concerns among the opposition and affected municipalities.
It appears western Algarve populations would be the most affected by this proposal, as it would be expected that some health specialties would cease to exist at the Centro Hospitalar do Barlavento Algarvio (CHBA) in Portimão and transferred to Faro Hospital and that, in a worst case scenario, the health facility would eventually close down in a bid to cut public expenditure.
Although these appear to be unfounded rumours, the municipal assemblies of Lagoa and Portimão have last week approved “unanimously” a motion by left-wing party Bloco de Esquerda, which “repudiates the suggestion to shut down the western Algarve hospital, placing people’s healthcare needs at risk”.
According to both municipal assemblies, the Ministry of Health and the ARS Algarve are obliged to inform the Algarve population about the plans concerning the future of CHBA.
The document submitted to the government by the left-wing party stated: “Since last week, rumours have been heard about the merging of the hospitals of Faro and Portimão, which would lead to a reduction in healthcare services available in Portimão.”
The ARS Algarve has apparently proposed to the Ministry of Health merging the two hospitals and, if this is approved, it could even imply shutting down all the services in Portimão and transferring staff and equipment to Faro, fears the political party.
Bloco de Esquerda also stressed that “the CHBA also serves the population of the far west Algarve areas of the Costa Vincentina and shutting it down would place the health of these populations at risk”.
The political group says the plans have been kept “under wraps” and fears they will be approved out of the public eye.
The Algarve Resident tried to obtain official comments from both Faro and Portimão hospitals and the ARS Algarve, but neither had responded at the time of going to press. Sources at both hospitals confirmed, however, that they were aware of the rumours.