Health Minister Manuel Pizarro's
Health Minister Manuel Pizarro

Chaos in A&E: minister appeals to people “to find alternative care”

New Year signals yet another dismal ‘groundhog day’ in SNS health service

Back to reality with a thump: the new year in Portugal has seen health minister Manuel Pizarro appeal on air to “people who don’t have reason to go to ‘urgências’ (A&E) to stop going to ‘urgências’ and seek out alternative care”.

Mr Pizarro told reporters today that two out of every five people going to A&E departments, “in some ‘urgências’ half the number of people”, would be better treated through alternative means

What are the alternative means? The answer, said the minister, is the SNS hotline and health centres.

Several health centres throughout the country have been ‘prepared’ to delivery primary care as the A&E ‘system’, particularly around the capital, is buckling under the strain of too few staff, too much demand.

The worst of the problems are in Greater Lisbon; average waiting times in various A&E departments (major hospitals) range from “more than 10 hours” to “12 hours, 43 minutes for urgent cases, 13 hours for non-urgent”, reports SIC television news). There are even reports of non-urgent cases waiting 21 hours in Hospital Beatriz Ângelo (Loures).

For all the changes to SNS Statutes, the creation of a ‘new executive body’ with a CEO in charge of hospital coordination, the same old problems seem to be causing… the same old problems.

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