I have a few physical injuries. Which is annoying, because we are trying to get a lot of work done on the roof and on the scaffolding. Poor Nuno is bearing the biggest load these days. I try to do as much as possible, with a sebaceous cyst in my knee and an inguinal hernia, both of which need surgery.

Going to the doctor in Portugal

The good thing about all this is that we are finally getting some experience with the Portuguese health service. The public health service doesn’t have a particularly good reputation. The healthcare workers are overworked, underpaid and the waiting lists are long.
The alternative is to have private insurance, which gives access to private doctors, clinics and hospitals. When you emigrate to Portugal, it’s advised to take out such insurance. And we have one too. The only problem is, there are no private GPs in our area. So to get the sebaceous cyst out of my knee, I went to our local health centre. To be treated there, you need a Portuguese health care number. (see this post)

Patients need to be patient…

At the end of April, I went to the centre to make an appointment, at the beginning of June I saw my GP, and two weeks ago I finally was in the hospital to get the cyst out. But I have to say, this was in the final stages of the pandemic and I wasn’t qualified as ‘urgent’. The course of the inguinal hernia is going faster.
And although it is said that you cannot choose your practitioners in the national health care system, the GP gave me the choice of hospital. I chose Lamego, a small regional hospital in a new building, the closest hospital to us.

At the hospital

On the online portal of the national health care service, the SNS, I can log in to a personal area. There I find my previous and upcoming appointments with the GP and specialists of the hospital. I even see my position on the waiting list for surgery. So you don’t have to worry about wether or not you receive a letter, because you can check it all digitally. This is how I found out the dates for the small treatment of the cyst and for the intake for the hernia. (and a little after that I also got a letter from the hospital)
In the hospital of Lamego, everything went smoothly. We entered and were welcomed by a hostess who showed us the way. Fast intake at the reception, very friendly and helpful staff. Most of them understand English when needed, and some even understand French or German. But most healthcare workers prefer to speak in Portuguese because they are shy to speak another language.
I was allowed to combine the examinations with a consultation, to save us an extra trip to the hospital. All and all, we had to wait about 5 minutes before each appointment. Except for that time I misunderstood the instructions on where to wait…. Then we sat in the wrong waiting room for over an hour and a half!

Time heals

And now I am waiting for the wound in my knee to heal. After the surgery I went to see the nurses at the local health center a few times for checkups. Ah, so now I know that there are also nurses, dentists, nutritionists and other specialist departments in the health center. The nurses changed the patches and removed the stitches.

All in all, the whole experience was not as bad as the reputation of the Portuguese healthcare service would suggest. All the buildings and offices need maintenance, but the people are friendly, helpful, and competent. And when you have an appointment they take their time and give you the attention you need.

My knee is slowly getting better (as long as I don’t go up the scaffolding to do some painting or pointing). And in the meantime, Nuno managed to get everything done on this side of the roof! We are ready to move the scaffolding to the next side!

Restored beams, new tiles, and new boards. And more or less like the original, except a different colour and finally: gutters!

Portuguese words about medical care

Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS)National Health Service of Portugal
médico de famíliageneral practitioner (GP)
número de utente de SNSpersonal healthcare number
centro de saúdehealthcare center
seguro de saúdehealth insurance
marcar uma consulta to make an appointment
pontos (de sutura)/suturasstitches
19 Oct 2022


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