National Health Service could be at risk

Preventing illness and using public healthcare services less frequently are ways of contributing to the sustainability of the National Health Service (SNS), said Portugal’s Secretary of State for Health.

Fernando Leal da Costa said that “if we don’t do anything to lower the risk of getting sick, the SNS will become an unsustainable service sooner or later.”

The treatment of illnesses related to tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes 2 – “which is preventable” – costs the government around €800 million each year.

Fewer GPs at

health centres

Meanwhile, health centres in Portugal have lost 77 doctors between 2009 and 2010 but the number of consultations has increased.

According to a report from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), despite there being fewer doctors at health centres (Centros de Saúde) in 2010, an additional 33,000 consultations were registered when compared to the previous year.

The decrease was particularly felt among non-specialist general practitioners (GPs), whilst a reduction in the number of specialists in the areas of dermatology, stomatology, dentistry, ophthalmology, paediatrics, psychiatry and pneumology was also felt.

However, by contrast, the number of specialists in family medicine increased by 100 in the same period.