Loulé, Faro, 10 May 2024 (Lusa) – The Minister of Health today acknowledged the existence of a lack of human resources in the pre-hospital emergency in the Algarve for the summer, but assured that a plan is being prepared to guarantee response and safety of users.

Questioned by journalists about the lack of staff at the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM), on the side lines of the inauguration of the building of the Algarve regional delegation of that institute, Ana Paula Martins acknowledged the lack of human resources at “various levels”, including medical technicians for pre-hospital emergency.

“It’s true, there are things that are missing from INEM. There was a memorandum made right away, from the day we joined the Ministry of Health, the president of INEM took care to make a very detailed memorandum about all the needs that INEM faces and is facing, and the need to human resources”, he stated.

The minister said that in the coming weeks she should return to the Algarve to work on a plan for the summer, in order to ensure that the lack of human resources, together with professionals’ holidays, does not affect the response that will be given during the busiest period with an influx of visitors and tourists to the region.

The Minister of Health added that there has been a request made for at least 200 technicians since February and March last year, highlighting that the priority now is for the ministry’s services to be able to outline a plan to guarantee the necessary response in the summer.

“And we now have to look at human resources – they are not just facilities, they are human resources – to, within the personnel or human resources maps, to put it better, that we have within the scope of the Ministry of Health, see how we were able to effectively address these needs”, he added.

Ana Paula Martins mentioned that there is also “collaboration with the firefighters” in this context, which the ministry wants “to see maintained and strengthened, and which is also on the table to be reviewed”, which can also contribute to this objective.

“It is a worrying situation and it is a situation that we have to manage – with the region and with those on the ground here in the region – to resolve as quickly as possible”, stressed the minister, revealing that “next week or at the beginning of the week next” will return to the Algarve.

The objective of this next visit is, according to the government official, to draw up “a response plan for these needs” together with the administration and professionals of the Algarve Local Health Unit (ULS), as well as with INEM.

Ana Paula Martins considered that “time is urgent, because summer is now, it’s tomorrow”, but assured that the response will be prepared, “together with the board of directors, and obviously INEM”, for the Algarve to have “a very quickly actioned plan” for the summer.

“But let me also tell you something, ULS and its board of directors have a plan on the table, now they need reinforcements, they need us to be able to attract more human resources so that, during the summer, they can be here to respond to medical and surgical emergencies and that is what we will have to do with the capacity installed in the Algarve”, he concluded.

INEM’s Faro and Quarteira 3 ambulances, the closest to the facilities that the Minister of Health inaugurated today, will be stopped 76% and 78% of the time in May, respectively, according to pre-hospital emergency technicians.

In a statement, the Union of Pre-Hospital Emergency Technicians (STEPH), which carried out a survey of the inoperability rate of INEM ambulances for the month of May, highlights that more than half have “high periods of inoperability”.

From the survey carried out, STEPH concludes that 20 ambulances were more than 50% inoperable during the month of May and that there are ambulances that “have not opened for several months due to a lack of technicians”. In the case of ambulances in Faro and Quarteira 3, the inoperability rates are mainly due to the lack of technicians, according to STEPH.