Portimão Hospital’s maternity unit was closed last weekend, much like it was most weekends throughout 2022 – it was a “horrible year for the Algarve’s (state-run) health services”, said the regional delegation of main opposition party PSD.
“We witnessed a degradation of human resources in many specialties, starting with paediatrics – the Portimão maternity was closed one in every five days – as well as an increase in waiting times for consultations and surgeries,” says a statement signed by PSD Algarve president Cristóvão Norte.
The former MP stresses that around 12,000 people in the Algarve remain on waiting lists, having already exceeded the maximum amount of time that they should wait by law.
“For ophthalmology, patients have to wait around three years for an appointment,” Norte said.
Some patients are being handed “surgery cheques” to be operated at other hospitals, he explained.
However, “many give up because they are sent to the north of the country, due to the millions of euros in debt that CHUA (hospital administration) has amassed, leading private hospitals in the Algarve to reject providing this service”, Norte added.
PSD Algarve also highlights the “degradation of the A&E service, perhaps due to shortages at health centres”.
The opposition party also says that the Algarve Central Hospital project remains at ‘square one’, although the government’s recent moves to get the project off the ground are a “sign of hope”.
Nonetheless, Cristóvão Norte believes that the creation of an “emergency plan” is vital to provide the Algarve with the health professionals it needs.
Says Norte, it is a “tragedy” to witness the issues affecting A&E units and the closure of maternities due to “a shortage of doctors, a lack of strategy and organisation”.
“We hope 2023 will be different. It has to be different,” concluded Norte.