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Posted by portugalpress on January 08, 2018

It has been a weekend to forget for Faro hospital chiefs, following an “anonymous post” over Facebook denouncing the alleged horror of day-to-day life in the Algarve capital’s casualty department.

But despite repeated efforts by the Resident to get a clear picture of the purported “unjust campaign against the hospital”, the hospital’s press representatives refuse to accept that this would help calm the troubled waters.

“We are not giving exclusives”, was one of the reasons given. Another was that this was an anonymous post with horrific photographs that did not carry a date, thus it could not be verified.

The truth is that the photographs - whether taken last week or last month - show a crisis in the region’s top hospital with patients crammed together on makeshift hospital beds, with the absolute minimum of dignity.

As one of the many Portuguese journalists publicising the post has remarked, no matter what the hospital board may try to say “there is no way for the casualty departments in this country to function as they should, ensuring timely and humane health care as well as dignity to those who have to use them”.

That is the tragedy of Portugal’s national health service - and has been for decades.

No amount of political posturing by parties out of power has changed the fact that once they are ‘back at the helm’, the problems at Faro and other hospitals persist - and this could be the reason why the hospital board has refused to answer our questions.

As for the gist of the latest ‘anonymous denouncement’ with all its disturbing photographs, commentary beneath is enough to show that many people recognise the situation as commonplace.

Says the post, patients “are subjected to authentic tortures for days and days, interned on stretchers, sometimes for weeks. Privacy is denied (they are exposed in front of everyone), they have no windows so cannot tell night from day. They are constantly exposed to stress and noise of a 24/7 casualty department. They are denied the right to secure care and treatment… they are denied the right to eat (many do not eat because there is no one to feed them). Many die alone, surrounded by so many people”.

Spaces designed for 24 beds frequently take over 60, “sometimes even more than 80” - with nursing numbers “never being adjusted” to compensate for the extra workload.

The post is not in fact ‘anonymous’. It comes from the “equipa de enfermagem do serviço de urgência do Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve” (so the hospital board will know exactly who is behind it).

Nonetheless, the board insists the facts described “illustrated with photographs clearly from another time in the year, are not in line with the situation experienced in recent months”.

The hospital’s press department added on Monday that Facebook is “not a credible source” and that the post is part of an “unjust campaign”.

There has been no ‘official complaint’ along these lines, added the spokesman, thus the way ahead now is for the furore to be “evaluated” before any further comments can be made to the press.

In a “note” put together over the weekend, the hospital’s board suggested the Facebook post refers to “information addressed to the former hospital administration in July, at a point when the current board had not yet taken over”.

The current board - while loath to answer journalists’ questions - claims it “has been working in a responsible, serious way, in permanent dialogue with all professionals in an attempt to settle and resolve some of the principal well-known constraints”.

Why it has not succeeded is the question it will not answer.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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