Faro Hospital (Photo: Sara Alves)

New hope for Algarve Central Hospital?

Government approves launch of new PPP deal for Algarve Central Hospital

New hope has been injected into the project to build the Algarve’s long-awaited Central Hospital.

The Portuguese government has approved the launch a new public-private partnership (PPP) to bring the hospital to life, as well as the end of the previous PPP deal.

The news came in the form of an order published in the state gazette Diário da República on Thursday (September 29).

The government has now left the matter in the hands of the Algarve Health Administration (ARS Algarve) and the Central Administration of the SNS (health service) to carry out, “as soon as possible,” the “study and preparation” of a new public-private partnership for the construction of the new Algarve Central Hospital.

The government also recognises that the “construction of a new hospital in the Algarve has been, for many years, recognised as a key factor to strengthen the SNS health service and improve access to health care, with an especially relevant impact in terms of the region’s capacity to respond.”

Whether this latest development is news that is worthy of celebration for those who have been calling for the construction of the hospital remains to be seen.

What no one seems to dispute is that the previous PPP deal did not achieve its goal, with the project failing to ever get off the drawing board.

The first seeds of the project were planted 20 years ago during Durão Barroso’s government, although the hospital was only formally announced in 2006 by Prime Minister at the time, José Sócrates.

The plan involved building the new hospital at Parque das Cidades, between Loulé and Faro and near the Algarve Stadium, and was placed second on a national list of priorities for new hospitals.

The public-private partnership (PPP) was launched but eventually suspended in 2011 when the PSD-led Pedro Passos Coelho government took charge, claiming that there was not enough money to build the hospital.

No major developments came since then, with the project remaining on the backburner despite multiple calls for its construction.

António Pina, mayor of Olhão and president of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL), called for the construction of the hospital last year, and AMAL even placed the project among its 33 priority projects in its Economic Recovery Plan for the Algarve.

Just last week, Portugal’s main opposition party (PSD) launched a campaign offering trips to Brussels to the five people who collect the most signatures for its petition for a new central hospital in the Algarve.

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com