Roughly 15,000 new cases of cancer will have been missed in the last few months due to the limitations on health services due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the grim message from GPs via the Portuguese association of general and family medicine.
Health professionals are working on the basis that around 50,000 cancers are diagnosed in Portugal every year. That works out at roughly 5,000 a month – and we’re now into month four coping with the constraints of the pandemic. These have seen health centres and hospitals ‘reorganised’ in order to face-up to increased demands, but to the point that thousands of planned consultations, surgeries and tests have been cancelled.
Says the association, people who do try and get seen by a doctor invariably come up against a phone system that takes so long to answer, they end up giving up.
Many “don’t have an email account, nor do they understand how this form of communication works”.
Thus, these barriers are creating a silent tsunami of demand that promises to wash into the Portuguese health system at a point when patient’s conditions will be infinitely worse than if they had been seen ‘in time’.
Another aspect of the increasing problem is the sheer number of people that it involves: 15,000 against the numbers in hospital with Covid-19 (currently 487 ) and the number of fatalities so far, ‘just’ 1,631.