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“Unacceptable difficulties” within Algarve health service “to be resolved by May”

Visiting the Algarve yesterday, health minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes vowed that the perennial “unacceptable difficulties” facing the region’s state-funded health services would be resolved by May 31.

How they will be resolved was not gone into in much detail however as once again both Portimão and Faro hospitals suffered vital shortages of specialist doctors.

National tabloid Correio da Manhã said that as Campos Fernandes was speaking the region’s hospitals were without orthopedic physicians on casualty wards between 8am and 2pm.

The situation repeated itself on the night-shift between midnight to 8am this morning, said the paper.

But the nitty-gritty of what the government is proposing sounds little different to contingency plans used over the last few years.

Presenting the new hospital board administration under former ARS Algarve contract department chief Joaquim Ramalho, Campos Fernandes said that patients who could not be cared for in the Algarve would enjoy a “via verde” (automatic pass) to health units in Lisbon and the Alentejo. This protocol would cover all emergency patients, as well as those who had been on an “inappropriate waiting list and had the possibility to be treated in Lisbon”, he said.

But this is in effect what has already been happening, as the Algarve has never seemed able to attract enough doctors and is habitually lacking specialists.

On this point, all the health minister could offer was that “an effort would be made to attract human resources” to the region – either by “creating conditions that would attract professionals from other areas of the country”, or by opening more job vacancies in the Algarve and less in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra.

What incoming boss Joaquim Ramalho did say, however, was that “the negative image” of the CHA administration under its former leader Dr Pedro Nunes had “contributed to recruitment difficulties”.

Thus the hope that with this new administration, the image will change.

CM added that “with the lack of orthopedic specialists in the Algarve”, several emergency ambulances have had to be used “to transport patients to other health units”.

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