SNS-24 helpline overwhelmed; health centres in “absolute chaos”

The knock-on effect of mass-testing for Covid-19 has put the SNS 24-hour helpline – the first port of call in the event of a positive test, as well as in most other health emergencies – under so much strain that callers wait hours before their calls are answered. 

SIC television news today is reporting on one incident, in which a Covid-positive patient, with symptoms, waited nine hours to have his call answered, and then another four in hospital before being+ attended.

The situation in health centres is equally chaotic. 

GP Nuno Jacinto has described “absolute chaos”, with doctors, nurses and admin staff stretched to the limit.

“Either we are in health centres to see all other non-Covid patients who continue to need our care, or literally we will have to abandon them to go to the ADR (units for people with respiratory diseases).

“You cannot make omelettes without eggs”, he said. “Nor can we be in two places at the same time”.

The increase in Covid cases is “enormous”, he told SIC. And the issues with lack of medical personnel stretch back years.

The health service needs “more professionals and teams” as the alternative is like having a blanket that you move to cover ‘one side or the other’. The problem right now is that the blanket is unable to cover either side, he said 

“Then we have instructions in some areas to maximise the ADR response. But this implies stopping activity in health centres”.

It’s time for “clear instructions”, he said, on where authorities want professionals, and then they need to “assume responsibility for this decision”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com