Algarve patients wait

A THIRD of Portuguese people wait more than a month for a consultation in a health centre, the consumer association DECO has revealed. The vast majority of the 5,000 people quizzed by DECO admitted they go to private clinics for consultations with the dentist (87 per cent), eye specialists (78 per cent), gynaecologists (68 per cent), dermatologists (64 per cent) and psychiatrists (62 per cent).

The survey revealed that national health patients are resorting to the private sector because of long waiting lists and a lack of specialist consultants in public centres. Almost a third (30.2 per cent) of those asked said they had to wait more than a month for a consultation with their family doctor, while 23 per cent said they waited between two and seven days and only 7.1 per cent said they were attended to within a day.

Come the day of the consultation, around a quarter of users said they had to sit for at least two hours in waiting rooms before being seen. The Algarve is the worst region for waiting times. “The situation seems to be worsening. In 2000, when we made a similar study, lengthy waiting times was a concern for less than a quarter of the people we asked,” said Carlos Morgado, the co-ordinator of the study.