a patient in hospital bed checked by doctor

The second phase of the “Call First, Save Lives” pilot project, to reduce inappropriate use of emergency services, begins next Tuesday, after an “extremely favorable” evaluation in the first phase

The first phase took place during the second half of 2023, in the municipalities of Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde, and the second phase, starting next Tuesday, the 16th, will take place at the Póvoa de Varzim/Vila do Conde Local Health Unit.

“The first phase of this new model for organizing, referring and referencing patients took place during the second half of the previous year and was extremely well received,” the Executive Directorate of the National Health Service (DE-SNS) said in a statement.

According to the DE-SNS, during the period of operation of the first phase of the pilot project, starting in May 2023, “around 17,500 appointments were scheduled through the SNS 24 Line in Primary Health Care (PHC), with a date and time (in less than 24 hours)”.

It says that, in this way, it was possible to avoid “unjustified attendances at hospital emergency services”, as well as improving the quality of the response, “always ensuring the safety of the processes”.

“It was also possible for around 7,000 users to remain in self-care via the SNS 24 Health Line, and for General and Family Medicine (CSP) to directly schedule 265 open hospital consultations in different specialties, as well as day hospital sessions for users with exacerbations of chronic diseases,” the statement reads.

On the other hand, with the direct referral of patients to the home hospitalization service, recourse to the emergency service was avoided, “fulfilling the true spirit of the recently created local health units”.

The DE-SNS stresses that the aim of this change is for patients, in the event of an acute illness, to always call the SNS24 line first, “so that they can be directed to the most appropriate place for their clinical situation, avoiding unnecessary travel and wasting time and overloading the emergency service”.

In this way, emergency rooms will be more available for serious illnesses.

The municipalities of Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde were chosen to implement this pilot project because they have good road access, short travel times, 99% of the population has a family doctor and primary health care is fully organized into family health units, as stated in the ordinance that defines the conditions for implementing the second phase of the project.

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