Re: Country Matters, September 12, 2014 edition

Dear Editor,
Margaret Brown’s lament on her experience of being unwell during August in the Algarve serves only to swell the ranks of the ‘grumbling expats’ she takes issue with – the only difference being the Portuguese instead of the British State Health Service under fire.
As I know only too well, the UK National Health Service is, like its Portuguese counterpart, flawed.
In defence of the latter, I would say that, as residents in the Barlavento area, we consider ourselves fortunate to have the services of the Bensafrim surgery, staffed by two highly competent, hard-working doctors, a nurse and an efficient receptionist generally at our disposal.
Could the ‘shortage of both money and doctors in Portugal’ explain, if not excuse, the lack of holiday cover?
We too had a family member unwell in August. On finding the surgery closed, we were directed to Lagos Hospital where, in under an hour, we were attended to politely and efficiently, at a cost of €15. The alternative for attention was Lagos Centro de Saúde, not too far away.
Regarding the closure of Bensafrim pharmacy, for whatever reason, nearby Odiáxere boasts a good one, as does Luz and Lagos. Many specialist clinics processing ‘analyses’ do not require a trip to Portimão – Lagos has them aplenty on payment of a fee.
Regarding the question of ‘sick and elderly inhabitants of Bensafrim’ receiving the care they need – one supposes they call on willing friends or family to help in extraordinary circumstances. They certainly fare better than many living in UK rural areas, far distances from a GP’s surgery, and with no public transport service available.
So a ‘wallet full of money’ may well be required – but this not being the case for a visit to/from a veterinarian whose services, according to your contributor, come at a ‘fair’ price? Well, ‘fair’ if one has a wallet full of a LOT of money! As to their being ‘always available’, I expect the same applies in parallel to treatment for humans from private medics/medical establishments – but we’d likely dismiss this as being in their financial interests….
M. M. Cook
Lagos