Data from the Ministry of Health, referring to the period between November 25 and December 4, reveal that, of the 434,440 consultations carried out on the same day for acute illness, 48,815 corresponded to situations of acute respiratory infection (about 7% of the total number of consultations).

Most consultations were carried out in the North region (184,390), followed by the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region (118,112), the Center (87,183), the Alentejo (28,811), and the Algarve (15,944).

“Over the last weekend alone, between 3 and 4 December, primary health care provided consultations on the same day to 16,123 users, the equivalent of the total number of emergency room visits in all hospitals in the country", stated the Ministry of Health.

In these two days, 4,277 consultations were motivated by acute respiratory infection (26% of the total).

In the North, in this period, there were 5,972 consultations, 4,033 in the Centre, 3,280 in Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, 2,176 in Alentejo, and 662 in the Algarve.

The Ministry of Health recalls that expanding the response capacity of primary health care to respond to situations of acute illness is one of the measures provided for in the “Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Health for the Seasonal Response in Health – winter 2022-2023”.

Extended hours

Locations with extended or complementary services can be consulted at in the area dedicated to the Winter Plan on the National Health Service (SNS) Portal.

From the north to the south of the country, there are already 176 health centres operating with extended opening hours (weekdays) or complementary opening hours (weekends and holidays), providing a community response in situations of non-emerging acute illness.

“This adaptation of capacity at the level of primary health care is intended to respond to the greater demand of the population in the autumn/winter months and to reduce the pressure on emergency services, in situations that may have a timely and adequate follow-up in primary health care”.

Even so, the Ministry of Health recommends prior contact with the SNS 24 for the most appropriate advice and referral to each situation.