Covid-19: Northern hospitals were the most efficient in the first phase of the pandemic

By TPN/Lusa, in COVID-19, North · 16-03-2021 12:00:00 · 0 Comments

Public hospitals in the north of the country were the most efficient in the first months of combating the covid-19 pandemic, concluded a study by the Coimbra Business School (CBS), which involved 37 units.

According to the conclusions, to which the Lusa agency had access, "hospitals in greater Porto are those that have the greatest capacity to provide services and those that make the best use of their resources". "Most hospitals in 2020 showed negative rates of productivity and technological evolution compared to 2019, showing the massive impact that the pandemic had on their performance", summarises the Coimbra Business School.

Research has shown that 21 public hospitals were efficient in Portugal in 2019, but only 17 achieved the same status in 2020. "Even so, and despite the impacts of the covid-19, some hospitals only became efficient in 2020", explains Maria do Castelo Gouveia, one of the authors of the study. The Espírito Santo de Évora Hospital and the Póvoa de Varzim / Vila Conde Hospital Center were the only ones that saw their efficiency levels increase during 2020. "Most hospitals in 2020 showed negative rates of productivity and technological evolution compared to 2019, showing the massive impact that the pandemic had on their performance", stresses CBS.

The investigation assessed the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the efficiency of 37 EPE [public corporate entities] hospitals, between January 2019 and November 2020, using data provided by the National Health Service (SNS). Carla Henriques and Maria do Castelo Gouveia, professors at CBS and authors of the investigation, were based on the number of doctors, nurses and operational personnel in each health unit, the number of beds, external consultations, discharge and urgencies to identify the factors that led to the evolution of the efficiency levels of each hospital. The data presented in the study demonstrate that all hospitals in the country had an increase in resources - human and logistical - but that it was those in the North that best knew how to take advantage of them.

"With the hiring of more qualified labor, hospitals in the North of the country were able to provide more services, namely in conducting external consultations, emergencies and hospital discharge", says Carla Henriques, stressing that "increasing the number of clinics is not always it is equivalent to a better performance ", because, in some hospitals," this situation may have only served to free up resources ".

In the study on the efficiency of hospitals, the Algarve moved from second place in 2019 to first place in 2020. The São João Hospital in Porto, which ranked eighth in 2019, rose to second in 2020. The third place in the ‘ranking’ remained at the Hospital and University Center of Porto. The Coimbra Hospital and University Center fell from first place in 2019 to fourth position in 2020. The Centro Hospitalar de Leiria, on the other hand, moved from 18th place in 2019 to fifth place in 2020. The Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Norte, which includes the Hospital de Santa Maria, went down from 9th position in 2019 to 28th in 2020, being the hospital that fell the most in the ‘ranking ' The West Lisbon and Central Lisbon Hospital Centers (where the São José Hospital is located) occupy the last positions in the table, in both years [2019 and 2020], preceded by Garcia de Orta, in Almada, and by the Hospital Center of Setúbal.

With the exception of Hospital Espírito Santo de Évora and Hospital Santa Maria Maior, in Barcelos, the great majority of hospital units presented negative levels of productivity since, "with the appearance of the pandemic, the reduction of activities such as external consultations, non-urgent and ambulatory caused an underutilization of resources and, consequently, the equivalent of a technological setback ", concluded Carla Henriques.

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