Health service emergency wards 'no man's land'

in News · 04-12-2019 08:00:00 · 0 Comments

Emergency departments in Portugal’s National Health Service (SNS) are a "no man's land", with around half of the cases dealt with being not true emergencies, and wrongly remain the gateway to the service, according to a report by a working group appointed by the government that Lusa has seen.

The group of experts, which was created in January by the Ministry of Health to propose measures that could improve emergency services in Portugal’s hospital, stresses that the issue has been debated "for 20 years" and that "it is time to move on to action".

One of the problems the report identifies is the "high prevalence of episodes of inadequate emergency services", which negatively affects health professionals" and reduces the quality of care, with over-long waiting times for diagnoses or treatments.

This happens consistently over time and is not just in winter, it maintains: only about 50 percent of the episodes observed in hospital emergency services involve patients whose cases are deemed urgent according to Manchester screening systems.

Portugal is, in fact, the country studied with the highest number of emergency cases.

"Emergency services continue wrongly to be the gateway into the SNS,” the report states. “It is necessary to change this culture of 'everything and everything on the spot’."

According to the group of experts, one of the main problems of emergency departments is that it is "a no man’s land and the poor relative of hospital … services."

It proposes reforms to try to improve matters, such as the creation of permanent teams and a specialty in emergency medicine, as well as better education of the general public to ensure acute but non-urgent cases are dealt with by other types of services, such as health centres or even in open consultations in hospital emergency departments, for which provision would have to be created.

An official at the Ministry of Health told Lusa that the report had been reviewed and found to "contain important strategic guidelines” and that the ministry had decided to send it on for the consideration of various bodies, such as the Directorate-General for Health, ambulance service INEM, regional health administrations and the central administration of the national health system.


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