In an interview with the Expresso newspaper six months after taking office, Fernando Araújo said that measures will be taken to reduce bureaucracy in primary health care.

The executive director recalled that the first was the self-declaration of illness for three days, which has already been implemented.

“In a second wave of changes, it will be possible to acquire medical leave certificates at emergency rooms, something that was prohibited by law. At the moment, a diploma is already in the legislative circuit that aims to allow hospitals to issue sick leave, in order to prevent a patient from breaking a leg, going home, and then having to go to the family doctor for someone to pass on the paperwork for sick leave ”, he advanced.

The official also highlighted that it will be possible to obtain sick leave certificates in the private sector, which was also prohibited, adding that what is intended is for these measures to be “a reality this year”.

Fernando Araújo also advanced that another measure is that some medical leave for diseases such as cancer be extended to three months.

“The objective is that patients do not have to go to the family doctor every month to renew their sick leave. We are currently also working on medical certificates for obtaining driving licences. In July, two pilot projects will start in two Local Health Units (ULS), one in Matosinhos and one in Alto Minho”, he said.

Fernando Araújo explained that, instead of the patient going to the family doctor, the Local Health Units will have a space for this purpose.

Increasing pharmacy services

In the interview, the official also advanced with two measures related to pharmacies.

“We in Portugal have a habit of creating hell with paperwork. I want to take it all off. The network of pharmacies has an enormous capacity in the country. Therefore, the first measure has to do with chronic medication and I hope it will be launched in August or September: If the family doctor marks a certain medication as chronic, for a disease like diabetes or hypertension, for example, the patient will stop needing to go every month or every three months to the doctor to get prescriptions. The pharmacy can give you the right number of boxes for that month, close to home,” he said.

The executive director of the SNS also said that next winter it is intended that pharmacies will be able to vaccinate people over 65 for flu and covid together with health centers.

“We want them to become vaccination points. The patient will not need a prescription or to go to the family doctor. You will only present a citizen card”, he underlined.