DESPITE A recent protest involving around 200 local residents, the Administração Regional de Saúde do Algarve (ARS), the Algarve regional health authority, is not budging on its decision to shutdown the Serviço de Atendimento Permanente (SAP) do Centro de Saúde de Silves, the 24-hour emergency service provided at Silves Health Centre.
The ARS states that the decision for Silves, along with similar changes being made throughout the country as part of a restructuring programme for emergency healthcare, is totally justified.
The main argument being put forward by the ARS is that the measure avoids “precious time being lost in emergency situations when the SAP is unable to assist patients requiring urgent treatment”, implying that Silves SAP is not equipped to deal with emergencies.
However, many local people have made it clear that they would prefer medical care to be available as close as possible to their homes. The Ministry for Health, however, states that it is preferable for the “victim to have faster access to a unit with the capacity to respond to their needs”. On the other hand, local people using the Health Centre say they are happy with the service being offered there by the SAP’s medical staff.
Isabel Soares, President of Silves Câmara, is clearly furious with the ARS over its decision to close down the SAP. “A patient who is suffering does not have time on their side nor should they wait,” she said. For Soares, those responsible for taking this decision “do not care about anyone”. “Health is the last thing that should be cut,” she said.
Furthermore, the Câmara President does not understand the criteria used to make the evaluation: “I can’t understand why they leave the Loulé, Albufeira and Vila Real de Santo António SAPs open when the accessibility to healthcare in these boroughs is much better.” Silves has many villages in the hills which are a significant distance from the nearest hospital in Portimão.
The president of the ARS, Rui Lourenço, has responded to Soares’ comments, stating that, during the night, on average, Silves SAP attends to seven people, of which “only 1.5 cases could be classed as a genuine emergency”. According to Lourenço, “the rest of the cases could be dealt with during normal opening hours and emergency cases should call for an ambulance by dialling 112.”
Silves SAP could close
at any time
As the directives issued by the Ministry for Health say that all SAPs, which do not attend to at least 10 patients per night must be closed, Silves SAP is on the black list to be shutdown at any moment. The decision is in the hands of the Ministry for Health.
At the time of going to press, a petition against the decision with 2,000 signatories was delivered to the ARS.