Unions protest over closure of hospitals

LISBON UNIONS were up in arms last week at the news that the government is to close down three city centre hospitals. The União dos Sindicatos de Lisboa (USL), the union of Lisbon syndicates, and the Movimento de Utentes dos Serviços Públicos (MUSP), the movement of public service users, were outside Lisbon’s Desterro Hospital protesting at the eventual closure of Desterro, São José and Capuchos hospitals without the government having built new ones to replace them.

Last week, the Ministry of Health officially announced its intention to close Lisbon’s older hospitals and replace them with modern public private partnership units fit for the 21st century. Most of central Lisbon’s hospitals are outdated and housed in former convents. They are costly to maintain and Desterro in particular needs re-roofing and frequently suffers from water leaks during bad weather.

The USL has asked for an urgent meeting with Health Minister Correia de Campos, but has so far not received a reply.

A member of staff, who did not wish to be named, at the Desterro’s blood analyses department told The Resident: “There is no question that either some people will lose their jobs within the health service or patients will lose access to healthcare. There are plans to build new hospitals and it is unlikely that the government will close these ones before the new ones are up and running.

“The problem is that the government has put the cart before the horse by announcing the closures now rather than waiting until the new hospitals are ready. Obviously, people are going to get scared,” the member of staff said.