In Monchique, «the disease has to wait until the weekend»

Monchique City Council (PS) has already asked the Minister of Health for a meeting

The situation is not new, but everyone agrees that «it has been getting worse lately». The Monchique Health Center has a shortage of doctors and users are desperate for an appointment – ​​there are those who go to the door at dawn to try their luck. At the weekend, the reinforcement of clinicians from other municipalities is a help, but not enough. The City Council (PS) itself has already asked the Minister of Health for a meeting. 

Ana Pinto, who lives in Monchique, talks about the «despair» the Health Center has become.

“We called to ask for an appointment and we couldn't. We ask for a prescription for medication and it takes two weeks. To get an appointment, some people go there at 6:00 am. I've been without a family doctor for six years, for example», describes the user to the Sul Informação. 

In an aging municipality, failures in the Health Center are, he admits, an «even greater constraint». When she needs to go to the doctor, Ana Pinto recognizes that, often, the private “has to be the solution”. Either that or she waits «until the weekend», when there are more professionals at the Monchique Health Centre.

Since 2018, all tenders that are open to place doctors in this unit have been deserted.

Contacted by Sul Informação, The Executive Directorate of the Barlavento Health Center Group (ACeS) explained that «vacancies are opened annually for the Health Center of Monchique, mainly in three moments, that is, twice a year for new specialists (1st and 2nd season) and once/year for mobility specialists».

Only… nobody wants to go to Monchique.

The Regional Health Administration and ACES Barlavento recognize the problem that has been worsening since 2017, when «two of the four doctors who were allocated to the UCSP of Monchique (Health Center and respective Health Extensions) retired».

For a year, these two doctors still agreed to continue providing care, but currently, according to the ARS/Algarve, there are, at the Monchique Health Centre, only two general and family medicine doctors who are in charge of «3000 users ».

There is also a third external doctor, hired by a service company.

Except that this professional, according to ACeS, «ensures the assistance activity at the Marmelete Health Extension (on Monday mornings), at the Alferce Health Extension (on Wednesday mornings) and the Customer Service Complementary at the Monchique Health Center on Tuesday afternoon, Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon, covering around 2 users without an assigned family doctor».

Added to this is another fact: the two doctors «have periods of the year that they are absent, mainly for vacations, but also for health reasons».

Absences, which ACeS Barlavento classifies as «unforeseeable», increase (even more) the «constraints» of the Monchique Health Centre, «forcing that, in these periods, the other external doctor has to ensure care equally to those users when your family doctor is absent'.


Paulo alves


On weekends and holidays, strange as it may seem, the situation improves because «much of the care activity carried out at the Monchique Health Center is provided by doctors from the various municipalities in the area of ​​influence of ACeS Barlavento».

What is certain is that, for the socialist Paulo Alves, the situation of this health unit has been «worsening day by day, mainly in terms of human resources».

Contacted by Sul Informação, the mayor of Monchique explained that he has already reiterated a «request for a meeting with the Minister of Health» due to these problems.

«It was something we had already done during his visit to the Algarve and now we have requested this meeting again», added the mayor.

Paulo Alves says that, on the part of the City Council, there are also solutions in sight.

«At the next municipal meeting we are going to take a regulation that wants to help to fix the doctors here, in the next tenders, with help in terms of accommodation, travel, etc», said the mayor of Monchique.

Moreover, there is currently an open competition for 10 vacancies for non-specialist doctors in the ACeS Barlavento area: one of them is for the Monchique Health Center and Alferce and Marmelete Health Extensions.

Is there a solution in sight?