Maternity unit in Portimão closes due to lack of doctors

The maternity unit in Portimão has been forced to close till next Tuesday (June 11) due to lack of doctors (specialists in pediatrics).

All ‘at risk’ pregnant women have been transferred to Faro, say reports, with other women due to go into labour being advised to make for Faro.

The only births contemplated over the weekend are those that are already underway, and which could not risk the extra trip of 66 kms.

This is the second time in just a few weeks that an Algarve state hospital has announced a closure due to lack of available manpower.

In May, Faro hospital cancelled all scheduled surgeries – again for a five-day period that included a weekend (click here).

This time round CHUA, the hospital’s management board, has said that it tried to “resolve the problem” by contacting pediatricians working for temping agencies, as well as seeking help from other State hospitals. But there was literally no suitable doctors available.

CHUA has since said that it is ready to hire two new doctors for Portimão’s maternity unit immediately.

Meantime, the hospital stresses that its children’s emergency service (Serviço de Urgência Pediátrica) is not affected by the glitch, though children with “specialist needs” will continue be transferred to Faro, under terms of a protocol that has been in existence for some time now.

The situation has already drawn criticism from the local political opposition (PSD/ Algarve) which has stressed that no sooner does the region start filling up with summer visitors, than “signs of rupture” in the State health service are becoming visible.

The problem, says a note signed by president of the PSD in Portimão Carlos Gouveia Martins, is that mums to be in far-flung corners of the Algarve like Odeceixe, or Aljezur, now have enormous distances to travel to get to Faro.

The alternative are private health units, in Lagos and Alvor, which will find families paying for a service to which they have “a constitutional right”.

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