The Union of Pre-Hospital Emergency Technicians (STEPH) reported that several ambulances were held up on Monday due to a lack of stretchers in the emergency room at Hospital Garcia de Orta, in Almada, a situation that worsened on Tuesday.

A hospital source told Lusa that "there are no stretchers" in the emergency room, but admitted a large influx of patients in recent days, a situation aggravated by the large number of people who remain hospitalised after being discharged, which limits the number of beds available for hospitalisation of people arriving by emergency.

Asked about this situation, the Minister of Health said that during the last "four or five days" there has been an "increase in pressure", due to diseases such as respiratory infections or gastrointestinal disorders, which creates difficulties for the functioning of emergency rooms.

“The Executive Board of the SNS has announced the adoption, for the time being, of a pilot project (…) to try to alleviate the use of emergency services, creating alternatives for people. It is something that we have to do gradually because this emergency plan has periods of exacerbation, but it is truly a chronic disease of our National Health Service, which has to be resolved with humanism”, defended Manuel Pizarro.

Manuel Pizarro thanked all health professionals who have managed to respond to patients in overcrowded emergency services.

The official recalled that during the beginning of the summer of 2022, there had been a peak in demand for the emergency room, which “seems to be happening again these days” and said that the authorities are monitoring the situation to “try to give the most effective response possible".

“We actually have a problem of an excessive influx of people to the emergency room and we have to respond well to the needs of these people”, he said, stressing that the answer “is not to blame people for going to the emergency room”, but, on the contrary, “to create alternatives” that people feel comfortable with.

“We have created a new model of access to health care, that is, we are going to try to make sure that people who go to the emergency room without a medical reason to go to the emergency room have an appointment on the same day or the morning of the next day and that it is scheduled in a simple way”, he explained.

Asked when the project will be extended, the minister said: "Before we make decisions about expanding it to other parts of the country, our expectation is that it will serve people better".