Operating unit closed for good

DOCTORS, MPs, local residents and the Lagos Health Commission are up in arms following the announcement made last week by the Board of the Centro Hospitalar do Barlavento Algarvio (CHBA), which confirmed the operating unit at Lagos Hospital will be closed permanently.

The judgement is widely considered to be “a hasty and thoughtless decision made by a caretaker government”. The CHBA cited lack of facilities and shortage of staff as the reasons for the closure. The operating unit at Lagos Hospital was temporarily closed in March 2004, a decision made by the Ministry of Health, following the death of two people after anaesthesia had been administered for minor operations.

In comments to the media, Lagos Câmara President, Júlio Barroso, said: “There is little dignity in the decision taken by the board of CHBA.” According to the President, the reasons given for the closure of the unit “don’t make any sense, because, up until the tragic incidents, the service was fantastic and, from then on, it became a disgrace”.

Meanwhile, Paulo Morgado, head of the Comissão de Saúde Concelhia, the borough’s health commission, regards the decision to close the unit as being “unsustainable and not properly thought out since it will penalise the Barlavento’s population”.

In addition, the Aljezur Câmara President has told reporters that he was “disgusted with the decision” and does not accept the justifications presented “for a unit that has been functioning perfectly well for 30 years”.

The decision to call a permanent halt to the surgery service at Lagos is considered as “unjust and rash” by the doctors who were running the unit. “It negatively affects the patients,” said one surgeon, who was carrying out up to 30 operations a day. “Improper, unfair, rash and thoughtless” is how the patients’ commission of Lagos Hospital describes the decision taken by the CHBA.