Health centres have adapted their extended service hours to support hospital emergency services with non-urgent cases.
More than 220 health centres will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to respond to non-emerging acute illnesses, announced the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that 221 primary healthcare units will be open on Christmas eve and 180 on Christmas Day. It also reinforces that the first step in seeking medical assistance should be calling the SNS 24 helpline (808 24 24 24).
Health centres have adapted their extended opening hours (weekdays) and complementary opening hours (weekends and holidays) in response to the increased health needs of the population in the autumn-winter period, within the scope of the Strategic Plan for Seasonal Health Response.
With this plan, “thousands of hospital emergency visits have been avoided”, says the Ministry of Health, adding that in the last four weekends, health centres have provided more than 66 thousand consultations.
Information about open health centres and their opening hours can be found on the National Health Service (SNS) Portal. Here, the data is centralised to facilitate citizens’ access to quality health care in a timely manner, especially at a time when health needs increase, but when resorting to a hospital is not always necessary.
In parallel, the “Via Verde ACeS” system, which allows faster referral of emergency services to primary care units, is already operating in 27 Health Centre Groups (ACeS), out of 55, in conjunction with hospital units.
According to the Ministry of Health, “this response allows users triaged as non-urgent – that is, white, blue or green wristbands – to be forwarded from hospitals to health centres, with a previously defined date and time, being assisted at most, within 24 hours”.
By accepting this referral to health centres, patients are exempt from user fees.