Portuguese told to “avoid casualty units” as nation’s hospitals reach crunchpoint

Desperate to avoid a repeat of the Christmas chaos experienced in many of the country’s casualty units, Portugal’s secretary of State for Health Manuel Delgado has appealed to everyone to stay away from hospitals unless absolutely necessary.

Talking on a visit to Sete Rios health centre in Lisbon, Delgado “admitted that some hospitals are close to maximum capacity”, writes Diário de Notícias today, and that health centres are now having to extend hours of business, to help with demand.

It was the closing of health centres in many districts that led to endless stories of disgrace and delays up and down the country over Christmas. Thus now authorities are reiterating the need for people to first get in touch with the health service helpline (Linha Saúde 24 on 808 242424) which will then direct them to the “most adequate (service), “like the health centre closest to their area of residence”, explains DN.

Other contingency plans are also in place to allow overfull hospitals to send patients to other units less under stress.