Patients to be ‘distributed throughout country’s hospitals’

The latest idea to cut down on hospital waiting lists is to ‘distribute patients’ throughout the country, reports Expresso.

The move could imply journeys of ‘several hundred kms’ just to see a consultant or surgeon, but hopes are that it would decimate waiting lists in the process.

Says the paper, the instruction from the health ministry has already been given and 120,000 patients could soon be on the move.

This number is nowhere near the total number of people waiting for specialist consultations or surgeries (Expresso says it represents 15% of people waiting for consultations and 8.8% waiting for surgeries), but it is a start.

Says the health ministry, it’s a “quick-fix” targetting patients who have been waiting over a year for a consultation or surgery, and it will go ahead “under a short-term plan”.

Critics however are doubtful. Said Alexandre Lourenço, president of the Portuguese association of hospital administrators, “it will be very difficult to succeed in reducing waiting lists without the public sector being reinforced with, for example, human resources”, while many patients will be reluctant to make long journeys, as they may not be able to afford them.

Jornal Económico recalls that striking nurses back in April warned they would never agree to such a plan as they considered the surgeries involved ‘non-urgent’.

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