Three in ten Portuguese felt sick during the covid-19 pandemic, but did not seek health care, according to a study published on Tuesday. “While the majority of the 664,000 Portuguese who felt sick during the pandemic – 454,000, or 69% – sought health care, three in ten (210,000 or 31%) did not”, they say in the authors of the study Access to health care in times of pandemic, carried out by GFK Metris and presented to the Portuguese Medical Association.
More than half of Portuguese (57%) believe that the pandemic has hampered their access to health care, the elderly (69%) and chronically ill (70%) having the most manifested this difficulty. Data from the study indicate that this was the result of an “effective experience”: 692,000 Portuguese did not attend scheduled medical appointments.
According to the survey, around two million Portuguese had a scheduled medical act during the pandemic (March to August), the majority (89%) of consultations, while 23% underwent exams, 5% a scheduled surgery and 3 % an internment.
“Almost all of the missed consultations were canceled by the health units,” says the study promoted by the Movimento Saúde em Dia – Não Mascare a Saúde, an initiative of the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators (APAH) and the Ordem dos Médicos.
The study aimed to listen to the opinions and capture the perceptions of the Portuguese on the covid-19 pandemic and its impact on access to healthcare, after being carried out on the basis of face-to-face questionnaires, between the August 28 and September 7, with a representative sample of the Portuguese population, made up of more than a thousand people over the age of 18 residing in mainland Portugal.
About 40% of respondents say they would definitely use health care during the pandemic if needed, 35% say they would only use it if the situation was serious and over 22% said they would “probably do so. “. Half of the participants say they feel safe and comfortable accessing health care. Anyone who does not feel safe points out the fear of contagion as the main reason for avoiding going to the doctor.
The study also wanted to understand how the Portuguese accepted telemedicine, after concluding that 775,000 people had had a medical consultation by this means, of which 90% did. “However, in 95% of these cases, the consultations were carried out by telephone, not constituting an effective telemedicine consultation – less than 5% of these teleconsultations involved the transmission of images”, underlines the study.
“Although the experience was deemed very satisfactory, the truth is that two thirds would not wish to have this solution again under any circumstances or only in very exceptional cases,” he adds. For another third, teleconsultation could only be an option in certain consultations. Only 2% of people would like to maintain teleconsultation on all or almost all occasions.
Majority advocates exclusive hospitals for covid-19
Almost 90% of those questioned in the same study believe that there should be exclusive institutions for the treatment of patients with covid-19 and others “free” to treat other diseases. For 87% of participants, there should be “rooms and paths in health facilities / services dedicated to Covid-19, so as not to mix these patients with people with other diseases”, and the trip to these services should always be scheduled, according to the schedule. to avoid overcrowding of users.
Another of the survey results points out that 83% of those questioned would like diagnostic tests to be performed on all users and healthcare professionals to prevent the risk of contagion by covid-19. The vast majority (88%) say they have “great confidence” in healthcare professionals / doctors, 77% consider that all procedures aimed at ensuring patient safety are taken care of and 68% say they have confidence to receive health care in their health center and 65% in a public hospital.
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When asked about the organization of health systems, 83% pointed out as a problem the long waiting time for treatment, 81% the waiting rooms with a lot of people and 71% the fact that doctors see many patients at the same time. For 43% of respondents, the National Health Service was not well prepared, in terms of health professionals, to face this pandemic, and for 58%, it was not well prepared in terms of equipment and of facilities.
By analyzing the response policies to the pandemic, the study concludes that “overall the assessment of the investments made by the Government, in its various dimensions, is moderate (neither positive nor negative)”. For a third of those questioned, “there was a certain irresponsibility in the expenses incurred in the framework of the pandemic, because they will plunge the country into a serious economic crisis”.