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Posted by portugalpress on July 12, 2018

Finance minister Mário Centeno has managed to further upset the parents of children with cancer forced to receive their chemotherapy in corridors due to delays in building a new hospital wing.

The situation at Porto’s Hospital de São João in Porto was beamed onto the public’s radar in April (click here), but Centeno clearly did not like the way media sources presented it.

Says Jornal de Notícias, when questioned recently in parliament over progress on the long-delayed wing, the minister “refused to participate” in what he called “debates based on newspaper reports that do not correspond to the truth”.

“The parents of the children are shocked”, said the newspaper. They “affirm if it wasn’t for the revelations their children would still be being treated in degrading conditions”.

“Who isn’t talking the truth are the ministers of Finance and Health who I invite to make a visit here as patients, to realise what is happening and how are children are being treated”, said Jorge Pires, one of the parents involved in forming an association that means to take the State to court to force it to construct the new wing that should be ready by the end of this government’s legislature (ie October 2019).

As for Centeno, he ducked MPs recent questions on progress in releasing the wing’s required €22 million in funding, saying “if we continue to debate issues of this relevance on the basis of photographs with the wrong captions we are not doing a good service to pediatric healthcare or the nation”.

Pires retorted that the photographs Centeno didn’t like were very real - and formed the basis of the exclusive story that led to the children’s conditions being improved.

They now have a new unit for consultations in the hospital’s outpatient section, and the days of leaking damp “wards” in containers sectioned off by cheap plasterboard are finally over.

When there is no bed space for children with cancer, they are either transferred to another hospital or treated in São João’s oncology or pediatric wards.

“Bad luck doesn’t walk alone”, however, stressed Pires. On the day the hospital inaugurated its new space for children’s chemo, the surgical bloc had to close “due to a plague of flies”.