11-month-old British baby dies on Portugal’s Algarve due to alleged delay in hospital transfer

Image of an INEM ambulance in Portugal.

Image of an INEM ambulance in Portugal. Credit: AlfvanBeem/Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication

An 11-month-old British baby died late in the evening of Friday, May 19, at a hospital in the town of Portimão in Portugal’s Algarve region.

According to an official source of the Portuguese news outlet Lusa, the child’s death occurred as the result of a delay in his being transferred to another facility in the town of Faro which is less than one hour away by road.

This delay was allegedly due to the fact that there was no ambulance available to make the transfer. It was also alleged that there was not a doctor available at that time in the paediatric department at the Faro hospital, as reported by Diario de Noticias in Portugal.

The deceased boy was described locally only as a ‘foreign child’, but well-placed sources confirmed today, Sunday 21, that he was actually British and on holiday in the Algarve with his parents, according to metro.co.uk. He is thought to have been taken ill with suspected bronchitis which was then diagnosed as septicaemia.

A source from the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM), informed Lusa that when the teams were preparing to transport the baby to the hospital in Faro by helicopter, his clinical condition worsened, and the child ended up dying in the late afternoon.

INEM clarified that it received a request from the Portimão hospital at 2:18 pm to transport an 11-month-old child to a pediatric intensive care unit, the baby being ‘duly accompanied’ by the Paediatrics teams of the health unit.

In a statement provided to Lusa, INEM wrote: “Finding the Faro hospital without Paediatrics and with the Paediatric Inter-hospital Transport Ambulance (TIP) inoperative due to lack of a hospital doctor, and TIP Lisbon occupied in another medical emergency mission, INEM then started the necessary procedures with a view to the activation of the Algarve helicopter, which was activated shortly after 15:00”.

When they arrived in Portimão, the medical teams started the procedures for the helitransport, but when they were preparing to start the flight to Faro: “the baby suffered a worsening of his clinical condition that prevented the transport and forced the team to return, at 5:45 pm to the hospital in Portimão”.

According to INEM, despite the efforts of medical professionals at the Portimão hospital and the institute, the child ended up passing away later the same evening.

“INEM deeply regrets the outcome of the situation and addresses sincere and heartfelt condolences to the baby’s relatives”, concluded the statement.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com