The health centers do not yet provide medical care at night and Saturday morning, as envisaged in a decree published a month ago, which set financial incentives to extend the hours of work of the units, according to the newspaper JN Tuesday (paper version). The goal was to restore 7.8 million unanswered consultations due to the epidemic in 2020.
According to the newspaper, regional health departments (ARS) are still working on determining which activity should be recovered. Lisbon and Val de Tigo ARS have confirmed to JN that they have already concluded the “regulation defining the activity that can be carried out and which specifies the criteria to be applied in health units”, and is currently determining “Additional groups of services that will be provided by each group of health centers.” ARS Norte ensures that it meets health units’ directives and expects the procedure to begin “as soon as possible”.
However, Nono Jacinto, president of the Portuguese Association of General and Family Medicine, told JN that this is “Thrift alone is not enough” It is not a “magic bullet” solution: “We must have the capacity, availability of professionals, and timelines to carry out our monitoring. This involves having the necessary human resources and not overburdening them with other tasks.” In addition, he stressed that this effort to restore appointments should be the mission of the “entire National Health Service” and not just the health centers.
Rocky Da Cunha, of the Independent Doctors Syndicate, points out to the daily that “Doctors need time for their families, to rest and to do their work,” and the Ministry of Health should “appoint more professionals,” instead in “Creating more pressure on weary professionals.”
It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Health decision published on March 10 sets an exceptional financial incentive to recover consultations, and permits extension of health centers’ working hours until 10 pm, and allows units to be opened between 10 am and 10 am until 10 pm 2 pm on Saturday, valid until the end of the year.