Hospitals begin to offer patients in emergency services to be treated at health centers. If they accept, they are exempt from paying user fees.
Less urgent patients – with green and blue wristbands – in hospital emergency rooms will be referred to health centers, if they accept to be treated elsewhere, according to the report. Public.
The decision is in a normative circular of the Central Administration of the Health System (ACSS) and came into force at the end of last week.
This happens at a time when the turnout to emergency rooms is reaching pre-pandemic levels and some services face a pre-rupture situation.
The measure defines that the importance of referral to primary health care units must be explained to users and information about the place and date of the consultation must be immediately provided, which cannot exceed 24 hours.
The referral process should take place immediately after screening, that is, before there is any contact with a doctor.
Still, patients are not obligated to accept. But those who accept are exempt from the payment of user fees.
Exceptions include patients transported by ambulance to the hospital, after being referred by the urgent care centers, those referred by the doctor, with a letter, and those referred by the SNS 24 line.
The circular comes after several local initiatives have implemented similar projects, as was the case with the Hospital of São João, in Porto, and Hospital de Barcelos. However, the initiatives did not have much impact.
Nélson Pereira, responsible for the Autonomous Unit for Emergency Management and Intensive Care at the Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João, stressed to the Public that the number of people who accept to return home and then go to the health center is “very small“. Although the circular is “in the right direction”, expectations are “low”, he adds.
“The idea makes sense, but in the past it came up against the lack of training in health centers and the reduced consent of patients”, also admits Xavier Barreto, president of the Association of Hospital Administrators.
According to the official, the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) provides for investment in diagnostic centers integrated in the Groups of Health Centers with X-ray machines and clinical analyses. However, the implementation of the measure is only scheduled for 2026.