Protest cut short as hospital boss denies drug shortage claims

Only a week after threatening a hunger strike over delays in life-saving medication, cancer patient Maria João was once again stopped in her tracks on Monday (February 24) while preparing another protest, this time at Portimão Hospital.
Just as she was about to stage her protest, the hospital’s administration board welcomed her to a meeting in which they guaranteed the delayed medicine she was demanding would be arriving later that day.
But why was Maria João involved in such a situation, for the second time in a week?
“I came here in support of two patients who had yet to receive their due medication, one of whom is a cancer patient,” she told the Algarve Resident shortly after meeting with the hospital board.
“We cannot allow medicine shortages or delays for cancer patients,” she said.
“In some cases, patients are given prescriptions to buy the medicine at other pharmacies. But even the generic brands cost between €35 and €90. Not everyone has that kind of money.”
Battling breast cancer herself, Maria João is the founding member of SOS Oncológico – an association that provides support to cancer patients.
This is one of the reasons she has decided to make other patients’ battles her own.
“Some people are afraid to speak up about the subject. But I intend to be a voice for these people, who are either too weak or scared to do it for themselves.”
While Maria João promised to continue fighting for the rights of the ill and the weak, hospital boss Dr. Pedro Nunes fended off all claims of medicine shortages in interview with the Algarve Resident.
Welcoming our call, the head of the CHA hospital administration guaranteed that the situation was “completely under control”.
“The patients have already received their medication. It was only a matter of waiting another 30 minutes,” Dr. Pedro Nunes told us, stressing in the simplest terms possible: “There are no medicine shortages and no cuts of any kind at the CHA.”
He explained that a technical error in the CHA’s computer system led to some delays in January, but stressed the problem was immediately fixed.
“If one of the hospital’s pharmacies runs out of certain medication, all we have to do is order it from one of the other pharmacies. It only takes just over half an hour.”
Dr Nunes was concerned by the fact that some patients were reportedly told to buy medicines they needed from other pharmacies. “That should never have been said to a patient,” he said.
At the end of our interview, the doctor stressed that the constant buzz around the health sector is not helping anyone.
“People have to stop protesting for no reason and making a fuss out of non-existent subjects. There is no shortage of meds, and no cuts whatsoever. These persistent demonstrations, protests and news articles help no one.”