By: ELOISE WALTON
WORK ON Faro’s new hospital should have started years ago, Portugal’s Prime Minister José Sócrates has admitted.
Speaking on Saturday at Parque das Cidades near Loulé to launch the open public tender for the Hospital Central do Algarve, José Sócrates said the process to construct the region’s newest hospital should have been launched years ago.
“Hospitals cannot be bought like supermarkets, there is a long planning process before the public tender can be launched” said José Sócrates, adding that hospitals “are not easy to buy”.
According to the Ministry of Health, construction of the hospital is due to start next year and be complete by 2012, so that the facility can be fully functioning by the following year.
As a result, Faro’s existing hospital will get new facilities, including a family health unit, a continuing care unit and sheltered accommodation for the elderly.
According to the Prime Minister, the new hospital is not being built to replace the existing one but to become “a model medical facility for Portugal and the Algarve region, which will be essential to the local economy”.
The Hospital Central do Algarve will have an integrated cancer care unit as well as modern equipment for diagnosing the disease, such as magnetic resonance and ultrasound equipment.
Access to other specialities that do not exist in the current hospital will also be available, including vascular surgery facilities, paediatric facilities, endocrinology and nutrition, medical genetics, nuclear medicine, neuroradiology and radiotherapy.
There will be 549 beds, 15 beds for palliative care, 10 operating rooms, 46 external consultation rooms and 43 daily hospital consultation rooms.
As well as serving around 800,000 people, 400,000 of them permanent residents in the region, the new hospital will also provide facilities for university medical students and for investigations to be carried out.
Regional MEP Mendes Bota, however, has shown his disapproval of the plans for the new hospital by writing a public letter to the government in which he questions the lack of seven services and facilities in the plans.
These include a service for cardio-thoracic surgery, paediatric cardiology, a paediatric day hospital, a burns unit, a medical university course in the Algarve, a scientific medical investigation section and the low number of beds, which will not satisfy the region’s needs.
Mendes Bota also criticised the delay of the plans, saying that this new hospital could have been completed and inaugurated by 2009 instead of in 2013, eight years after the current government came to power.
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