Petition calling for construction of Algarve Central Hospital needs 7,500 signatures to make it to Parliament
Portugal’s main opposition party (PSD) is offering trips to Brussels to the five people who collect the most signatures for its petition for a new central hospital in the Algarve.
The petition, entitled ‘Hospital Central Já’ (Central Hospital Now), was launched at the party’s Festa do Pontal, held every summer in the Algarve, but has only received around 1,500 signatures so far (it needs 7,500 to be discussed in Parliament).
Thus, the party decided to encourage citizens to get more actively involved by offering five paid trips to Brussels and the European Parliament (including accommodation) to the five people who gather the most signatures.
Cristóvão Norte, president of PSD Algarve and the first person to sign the petition, has stressed how the central hospital project has been in the pipeline for years.
“The Algarve Central Hospital was the second national priority in terms of hospitals to be built. Five hospitals have started being built since then, and the Algarve, which has one of the worst indexes of health care in the country, was left behind,” the former MP told TSF radio, adding that the latest initiative aims to award those who commit to this cause.
Citizens do not have to be registered PSD supporters to win the trips to Brussels, scheduled between November 28 and 30, said Norte.
He added that he had also been actively involved in the petition to create a Medicine university course in the Algarve, which at the time received around 10,000 signatures.
“It’s a demanding job,” he said, referring to the difficulty of collecting signatures. “In theory, people support (the construction) of the Algarve Centra Hospital, as we know. But they need to take the initiative and sign.”
The hospital was announced in 2006 by the Socialist government of José Sócrates, although the beginnings of the project date back to 2002 during Durão Barroso’s government. The plan involved building the new hospital at Parque das Cidades, between Loulé and Faro and near the Algarve Stadium, and was placed second on a national list of priorities for new hospitals.
A public-private partnership (PPP) was launched but eventually suspended in 2011 when the PSD-led Pedro Passos Coelho government took charge, claiming that there was not enough money to build the hospital.
Since then, the project has remained on the backburner.
The petition claims that the constant delays are “very harmful to the interests of the region and its people, but also the country.”
In May, Portugal’s Parliament unanimously approved a PS proposal to begin proceedings to build and equip the hospital. The approved proposal said the government would carry out the proceedings until the end of September 2022, choosing whichever contractual model is “quickest” to ensure the project moves forward.
However, no further developments have been revealed so far.