Meeting at Centro de Saude

Amovate is told:

“Nobody will be without a doctor.”

Amovate President Peter Johnson, General Assembly Vice-President Maria Franca and Matt D’Arcy, responsible for Press and Public Relations, have held a meeting with a senior official at the Health Centre in Aljezur to clarify a number of concerns among the ex-pat community.

We met with Dr Dulce Moreno, head of the Public Health department, to ask about changes not only at the Clinic, but also nationally by the Ministry of Health, and to discuss how those changes will affect the community.

We also wanted to bring to their attention concerns raised by members and residents about the lack of Family GPs at the Centre, making it difficult for people to make appointments or to see a doctor locally, avoiding journeys to Portimão orLagos.

Dra Dulce first assured us that she would be available, by appointment, to members of the community every Monday afternoon to discuss any issues they wish to raise regarding the Health Centre and their treatment there.

Although she doesn’t speak English she, like all the staff at the Health Centre, now has computer access to a translation website and this is now available at all consultations where there is a language problem.

Naturally, anyone not speaking Portuguese may still find it preferable to have a translator with them, where possible. But at least the computer solution is a significant step forward.

She also said she was quite happy for Amovate to communicate with her regularly via e-mail to discuss any issues raised by our members.

Between us we worked out a system by which members can e-mail their questions to Amovate and we will collect them together and draw up one general e-mail containing all those issues to send to Dra Dulce, who would reply directly to Amovate.

Then her communications would be posted on the Amovate website under a special Section headed Health Centre.

This would save the Health Centre being flooded with queries, many of which will almost certainly be duplicated, and channel everything through one simple medium.

As far as the question of availability of doctors is concerned she did say there was a shortage of medics on the Algarve, most especially here on the West Coast where it is not only difficult to attract doctors but even more difficult to get them to stay once they accept a position here.

As everyone knows the most recent departure is Dr Tiago Cruz, although Dr Anna and Dr Eduardo Carvajal remain at their posts.

However, the VERY good news is that from the beginning of February—Dra Dulce doesn’t yet know the exact date—three new doctors are arriving in Aljezur from Cuba….doctors who she assures us WILL remain at their jobs for the foreseeable future.

These new doctors, who all have some English, have signed minimum two-year contracts with the Health Centre and will live and work entirely in Aljezur, guaranteeing their presence on a daily basis.

And to pick up some of the slack on a temporary basis another doctor will be coming on duty at the Health Centre on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays up to the end of the month to see—by appointment—patients who currently do not have a family doctor.

Dra Dulce assures us that, once the Cuban doctors arrive, all patients registered at the Health Centre will have their own family doctor.

“Nobody will be without a doctor,” was her reassuring promise.

On a national level the economic problems besetting Portugal are forcing some major changes within the country’s National Health Service.

You can get full information (including an English translation by clicking the Union Flag icon on the top right hand corner) on this website:

www.arsalgarve.min-saude.pt

Also, if you Google Portal da Saude you will be shown a list of websites all offering daily information relating to the Ministry of Health, although you may have to run these through Google’s translation software.

Using this service you can select the health centre you wish to visit, go to its web page and there you can find all the relevant information.

Maria will go through these websites to furnish us with a fuller idea of what relates to us in the next couple of days or so, but just to summarise, there will be some additional charges coming into effect for medical treatment.

Dra Dulce assures us that any exemptions you currently have on prescription charges, for example (i.e. diabetics etc) will continue to be honoured.

But there will be increased costs for consultations with your doctor, and for things like X-rays, scans etc.

Any person can apply to be exempt from doctors’ fees etc, by downloading and filling out the relevant form. You fill out all your details, including fiscal number etc, and the Health Ministry will establish if you are, indeed, exempt.

One other point raised by Dra Dulce:

She says ex-pats in Vale da Telha and the surrounding districts may not be aware that the Health Centre operates a free home care medical service for anyone who is housebound and in need of long-term medical attention.

These people will receive continuous medical treatment at home, via the services of a doctor, nurse, even a physiotherapist where necessary.

This service, available right across the Aljezur Camara, is restricted to medical services, not to cleaning etc.

So, if you know anyone who is housebound and not receiving medical care at home, please give their details to the Health Centre and that omission will be corrected.

Once Maria has finished accessing the various websites we hope to be able to give you additional information here regarding costs of treatment etc.

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