Meet the Algarve’s new “university hospital” management: CHUA

It is official. The Algarve’s much-maligned hospital management system (CHA) is being ditched for a new model with a similar name but which health chiefs believe will be much more efficient: the CHUA – in other words, the Algarve’s University Hospital Centre.

It will feature four units, two of which were part of the previous system: Faro hospital, and the Portimão and Lagos hospitals. The new units to integrate the system are the São Brás physiotherapy centre (CMRS) and the University of the Algarve.

The CHUA management could be just “weeks away” though there is no set date yet.

Paulo Morgado, the Algarve’s new health boss, told us why a new management model is desperately needed.

“The CHA did not work. We do not have any problems in admitting so,” he said.

As he explained: “There is a political consensus, from left to right on a regional level, that a change is needed.”

Morgado considers it a “huge and enticing challenge” which ARS Algarve – the regional health authority he leads – is hard at work on alongside doctors, regional authorities and the government.

“This is our strategy and we are convinced this is the model that will solve the hospital-related issues the Algarve has struggled with these last years,” he added.

Over the past few years, the CHA hospital board – which took over the management of the Algarve’s three hospitals (Faro, Portimão and Lagos) – was criticised for a “lack of health professionals” and “working conditions”. Nurses’ union SEP and Portimão mayoress Isilda Gomes were among leading critics.

The key difference the new system promises is “much more autonomy” for each unit.
There will be a regional hospital board, but each unit’s managing teams will be more empowered.

Hopes are that this will make it easier to detect shortages in medical equipment, human resources and medication, which became very common in the last few years and often led to “great frustration and issues” in health professionals’ day-to-day life.

As Morgado explains, the board as it is “cannot respond well and in time to all the services and units, some of which are more than 60 kilometres away from each other”.

Linking the hospitals to the university is also seen as “essential”, especially as a means of bolstering its Medicine course.

And including the physiotherapy centre is another novelty as it was originally meant to go private.

Portimão, which Morgado admits is the unit that was worst affected by the creation of the CHA, is expected to recover the services it has lost over the years.

The health chief warns, however, that the process will not be immediate and “requires an increased commitment from all those in charge”.

Fears that a new hospital management system might leave Lagos out were also unfounded, as the health chief says it is “essential” to maintain the town hospital’s basic emergency unit as well as the 40 hospitals beds it boasts.

More details on the system are to be revealed soon as it is still work in progress.

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