Government to increase A&E fees

IN A bid to decrease state spending on essential A&E services, the government is to bring charges on treatment and medicines in line with today’s costs. At the same time, it will penalise people using A&E departments for minor, non-urgent complaints.

It is hoped that this will reduce the long queues at hospital out-patient departments and free up doctors’ and nurses’ time to attend patients who are urgently in need of front line emergency services.

The measures were announced in parliament last week by Health Minister, Correia de Campos, during a debate about the State Budget 2006. The minister stressed that this was to moderately bring the cost of services in line with contemporary living standards and stop people using casualty, except when necessary, and encourage patients with lesser complaints to see their family GPs in the local Centro de Saúde (health centre).

The measures aim to cut by 40 per cent the estimated number of people who use hospital services without real justification.