ACCORDING TO the Ministry of Health’s national criteria, the Algarve only requires a 24-hour emergency service to be operated at the region’s two main hospitals (Faro and Portimão) and at the Serviço de Atendimento Permanente (SAP) in Vila Real de Santo António.
Among the criteria used to make this evaluation is the time in which it takes to travel to one of the region’s two hospitals from Silves, Albufeira and Loulé (the areas where there are currently SAPs operating day and night). The study concluded that it takes less than an hour to reach a hospital from the aforementioned locations.
Due to the restructuring of the national emergency unit network, planned by the Ministry of Health and the local healthcare authorities, the region’s requirements are being assessed by a special commission. The conclusions of this study could bring an end to the night-time emergency services being offered by some of the region’s centros de saúde (health centres).
The initial findings of the commission, which have included a count of the number of residents in each borough, point to the fact that the SAPs in Silves, Albufeira and Loulé don’t need to stay open during the night. However, the Administração Regional de Saúde (ARS) do Algarve, the regional health authority, is trying to make it clear that the thousands of tourists that visit the region need to be taken into consideration as well.
One of the facilities that is at risk of closure during the night is the SAP in Silves, a situation that is greatly angering the President of Silves Câmara, Isabel Soares. “The closure of Silves SAP during the night would represent a brutal blow and a strategy that is clearly not in line with the country’s Constitution, which defines that everyone has a right to health protection. This must be defended,”, she says.
In a press release issued by Silves Câmara, the social democrat defends the interests of those who live in the more remote areas in the hills and accuses the ARS and the Ministry of Health of “putting the lives of thousands of people at risk”.