“The number on the waiting list for the first consultation was 2,940 beneficiaries at the end of March 2020, and 2,465 at the end of September 2020,” said the Assistant Secretary of State and Health at a hearing, by videoconference, at the Health Commission required by the PCP to discuss delays in accessing medically assisted procreation (PMA) treatments and measures to recover them.
Citing official sources, António Lacerda Sales stated, in response to the deputies regarding waiting lists, that there was a decrease of 475 beneficiaries in this period (-16.2 percent). Lacerda Sales explained that the demand for the first fertility support consultations is “very dependent” on the users' initiative and at the time of the first general lockdown the demand for citizens decreased.
"There was in fact a significant contraction in demand and this was also obviously reflected in the first fertility support consultations", he maintained. Waiting lists for first-line treatments, intrauterine insemination, and second-line treatments, in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic microinjection also decreased, between March and September, although at a “lower rate” than in the first fertility support consultations.
According to António Lacerda Sales, the waiting list for intrauterine insemination decreased by 2.6 percent in this period and for in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic microinjection by 6.4 percent. “Taking into account the decrease of the first consultations, there were consequently less differentiations for treatment of PMA” of first and second line.
Data extracted from the Regional Health Administrations (ARS) indicate that the waiting time in the ARS Norte between the appointment period and the respective appointment varies from one to four months and the waiting time between the appointment of the fertility treatment appointment and the respective schedule varies between four to 18 months.
At ARS central the waiting times for requesting an appointment to consult fertility support and their scheduling take an average of 60 days and the waiting time between requesting to schedule fertility treatment appointments and their scheduling is about 120 days, while in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo ARS it is about 150 days and about 187 days, respectively. On average, he summed up, for each of the PMA centres, the waiting times are: between the request for an appointment to consult fertility support and the respective schedule of about nine months at the most and the waiting time between request for an appointment and scheduling fertility treatment for about 15 months. Asked about the delays in treatments using PMA techniques due to the pandemic, although it is an old situation, António Lacerda Sales assured that all consultations have already been rescheduled. "All women whose cycles or treatments have been suspended during this period have already been rescheduled in all centres," he said, adding that he obtained this information from each of the PMA centres.