Lagos hospital closure fears

The Regional Health Administration (ARS) of the Algarve has guaranteed that Lagos Hospital will keep all its wards open. The pledge comes after unions publicly voiced concerns about the eventual closure of the specialist surgery and internal medicine units. For the past two weeks, all the patients who were due to have been treated by doctors in these wards have been transferred to the Algarve’s Barlavento Hospital (HBA). The president of the ARS claims the measure is only short-term, caused by holidays at the clinic. “Patients who need to be observed in the emergency departments are transferred to HBA, and are returned to their referring hospital if they need to be admitted onto a ward.”

But the union of Portuguese nurses and the public service union of the south and of the Azores criticised the measure, interpreting the decision as proof of a desire to close the hospital. The Regional Federation of the Socialist Party described it as “the slow death of Lagos Hospital and the first step towards its closure”. It also promised that “any attempt to close Lagos Hospital would be met by the firm opposition of all the Algarve’s citizens”.

But the president of the ARS, Dr. Martinez, assured the public that the move was temporary, caused by the holidays of one of the specialists, and that this would be resolved shortly. He denied the government’s intention to close the hospital, stating that, if this had been the objective, it would not have laid plans for the future Central Barlavento Hospital. According to Martinez, the creation of the Central Barlavento Hospital aims to place the management of both hospitals under the same Administration Council. “If our intention had been to close Lagos Hospital, the best way would have been to leave it alone and let it die a natural death,” he said.