SNS? “Health system too focused on acute illness and emergencies”


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The difficulties chronic patients face in accessing healthcare is one of the main complaints of the Plataforma Saúde em Diálogo (Health in Dialogue Platform), which regrets that the system is too focused on treating acute illness and emergencies.

“We haveahealthsystem that is very focused on acute illnesses and emergencies and that is poorly organized in terms of the needs of the chronically ill, who are the biggest consumers of the system’s resources,” the president of the platform lamented to the Lusa news agency on National Health Users’ Day.

After pointing out that the issue of access to healthcare “is transversal to all users”, Jaime Melancia said that this concern of the chronically ill had already been expressed to the new minister, Ana Paula Martins, at a meeting last week.

The president of the platform, which brings together around 70 associations defending the chronically ill and health professionals, stressed that, in practice, he wants “access to be made easier and for people to have access to diagnoses and treatments in an appropriate manner and on time”.

“We mustn’t forget that the patient’s quality of life will have a return for society,” stressed Jaime Melancia, pointing to examples of increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.

On National Patients’ Day, the president of Saúde em Diálogo (Health in Dialogue), which was set up in 1998 and has IPSS status, said that another of his concerns, which has already been conveyed to the minister, is to ensure that hospitals “don’t create obstacles” to the law that provides for hospital medicines to be dispensed in pharmacies.

“Many patients in this country have to go to the big hospitals to be treated. There are already these huge travel costs and they also have to come to the big centers to get their medication, when it’s dispensed in hospitals,” warned Jaime Melancia, who believes that now “no more obstacles need to be created for patients to be treated on time” in close proximity.

Speaking to Lusa, the president of the platform also defended the creation of the Chronic Patient Statute, to allow “due attention” to be paid to these patients, and considered that the lack of family doctors in some regions of the country hampers their clinical follow-up.

“Many chronically ill patients, after having been treated in hospital by a specialist in diagnosis and initial treatment, should be followed up by a family doctor, without having to go to hospital,” he said.

Jaime Melancia also said that he hoped the recently created Local Health Units would be maintained, and that there was a “consensus” that the executive director of the SNS, who presented Ana Paula Martins with her resignation, was “doing a good job”.

The platform was working with Fernando Araújo on the commission for the humanization of care, arguing that, despite his departure from the executive board, the “part of involving patients in decisions and not just as mere users of the system” should be maintained.

“We are the ones who know how to deal with our illness,” stressed Jaime Melancia, for whom users are “very little involved” in the day-to-day decisions of the various health organizations.

At the end of 2022, the SNS had more than 10.5 million registered users.

According to data from the SNS transparency portal, 10,333,07 users were registered in primary health care (health centers) at the end of March, 163,963 thousand less than at the beginning of the year.

In January, 1,647,700 users had not been assigned a family doctor, a figure that fell to 1,539,222 last month.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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